Poster Session 2

Hall E


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# #100
Skin Deep Unlearning: Artefact and Instrument Debiasing in the Context of Melanoma Classification

Peter J. Bevan · Amir Atapour-Abarghouei

Convolutional Neural Networks have demonstrated dermatologist-level performance in the classification of melanoma from skin lesion images, but prediction irregularities due to biases seen within the training data are an issue that should be addressed before widespread deployment is possible. In this work, we robustly remove bias and spurious variation from an automated melanoma classification pipeline using two leading bias unlearning techniques. We show that the biases introduced by surgical markings and rulers presented in previous studies can be reasonably mitigated using these bias removal methods. We also demonstrate the generalisation benefits of unlearning spurious variation relating to the imaging instrument used to capture lesion images. Our experimental results provide evidence that the effects of each of the aforementioned biases are notably reduced, with different debiasing techniques excelling at different tasks.

# #102
One-Pass Diversified Sampling with Application to Terabyte-Scale Genomic Sequence Streams

Benjamin Coleman · Benito Geordie · Li Chou · R. A. Leo Elworth · Todd Treangen · Anshumali Shrivastava

A popular approach to reduce the size of a massive dataset is to apply efficient online sampling to the stream of data as it is read or generated. Online sampling routines are currently restricted to variations of reservoir sampling, where each sample is selected uniformly and independently of other samples. This renders them unsuitable for large-scale applications in computational biology, such as metagenomic community profiling and protein function annotation, which suffer from severe class imbalance. To maintain a representative and diverse sample, we must identify and preferentially select data that are likely to belong to rare classes. We argue that existing schemes for diversity sampling have prohibitive overhead for large-scale problems and high-throughput streams. We propose an efficient sampling routine that uses an online representation of the data distribution as a prefilter to retain elements from rare groups. We apply this method to several genomic data analysis tasks and demonstrate significant speedup in downstream analysis without sacrificing the quality of the results. Because our algorithm is 2x faster and uses 1000x less memory than coreset, reservoir and sketch-based alternatives, we anticipate that it will become a useful preprocessing step for applications with large-scale streaming data.

# #104
Unsupervised Flow-Aligned Sequence-to-Sequence Learning for Video Restoration

Jing Lin · Xiaowan Hu · Yuanhao Cai · Haoqian Wang · Youliang Yan · Xueyi Zou · Yulun Zhang · Luc Van Gool

How to properly model the inter-frame relation within the video sequence is an important but unsolved challenge for video restoration (VR). In this work, we propose an unsupervised flow-aligned sequence-to-sequence model (S2SVR) to address this problem. On the one hand, the sequence-to-sequence model, which has proven capable of sequence modeling in the field of natural language processing, is explored for the first time in VR. Optimized serialization modeling shows potential in capturing long-range dependencies among frames. On the other hand, we equip the sequence-to-sequence model with an unsupervised optical flow estimator to maximize its potential. The flow estimator is trained with our proposed unsupervised distillation loss, which can alleviate the data discrepancy and inaccurate degraded optical flow issues of previous flow-based methods. With reliable optical flow, we can establish accurate correspondence among multiple frames, narrowing the domain difference between 1D language and 2D misaligned frames and improving the potential of the sequence-to-sequence model. S2SVR shows superior performance in multiple VR tasks, including video deblurring, video super-resolution, and compressed video quality enhancement.

# #106
ME-GAN: Learning Panoptic Electrocardio Representations for Multi-view ECG Synthesis Conditioned on Heart Diseases

Jintai Chen · KuanLun Liao · Kun Wei · Haochao Ying · Danny Z Chen · Jian Wu

Electrocardiogram (ECG) is a widely used non-invasive diagnostic tool for heart diseases. Many studies have devised ECG analysis models (e.g., classifiers) to assist diagnosis. As an upstream task, researches have built generative models to synthesize ECG data, which are beneficial to providing training samples, privacy protection, and annotation reduction. However, previous generative methods for ECG often neither synthesized multi-view data, nor dealt with heart disease conditions. In this paper, we propose a novel disease-aware generative adversarial network for multi-view ECG synthesis called ME-GAN, which attains panoptic electrocardio representations conditioned on heart diseases and projects the representations onto multiple standard views to yield ECG signals. Since ECG manifestations of heart diseases are often localized in specific waveforms, we propose a new "mixup normalization" to inject disease information precisely into suitable locations. In addition, we propose a "view discriminator" to revert disordered ECG views into a pre-determined order, supervising the generator to obtain ECG representing correct view characteristics. Besides, a new metric, rFID, is presented to assess the quality of the synthesized ECG signals. Comprehensive experiments verify that our ME-GAN performs well on multi-view ECG signal synthesis with trusty morbid manifestations.

# #108
Variational Mixtures of ODEs for Inferring Cellular Gene Expression Dynamics

Yichen Gu · DAVID BLAAUW · Joshua Welch

A key problem in computational biology is discovering the gene expression changes that regulate cell fate transitions, in which one cell type turns into another. However, each individual cell cannot be tracked longitudinally, and cells at the same point in real time may be at different stages of the transition process. This can be viewed as a problem of learning the behavior of a dynamical system from observations whose times are unknown. Additionally, a single progenitor cell type often bifurcates into multiple child cell types, further complicating the problem of modeling the dynamics. To address this problem, we developed an approach called variational mixtures of ordinary differential equations. By using a simple family of ODEs informed by the biochemistry of gene expression to constrain the likelihood of a deep generative model, we can simultaneously infer the latent time and latent state of each cell and predict its future gene expression state. The model can be interpreted as a mixture of ODEs whose parameters vary continuously across a latent space of cell states. Our approach dramatically improves data fit, latent time inference, and future cell state estimation of single-cell gene expression data compared to previous approaches.

# #110
Bayesian Imitation Learning for End-to-End Mobile Manipulation

Yuqing Du · Daniel Ho · Alexander Alemi · Eric Jang · Mohi Khansari

In this work we investigate and demonstrate benefits of a Bayesian approach to imitation learning from multiple sensor inputs, as applied to the taskof opening office doors with a mobile manipulator. Augmenting policies with additional sensor inputs—such as RGB + depth cameras—is a straightforward approach to improving robot perception capabilities, especially for tasks that mayfavor different sensors in different situations. As we scale multi-sensor robotic learning to unstructured real-world settings (e.g. offices, homes) and more complex robot behaviors, we also increase reliance on simulators for cost, efficiency, andsafety. Consequently, the sim-to-real gap across multiple sensor modalities also increases, making simulated validation more difficult. We show that using the Variational Information Bottleneck (Alemi et al., 2016) to regularize convolutionalneural networks improves generalization to heldout domains and reduces the sim-to-real gap in a sensor-agnostic manner. As a side effect, thelearned embeddings also provide useful estimates of model uncertainty for each sensor. We demonstrate that our method is able to help close the sim-to-real gap and successfully fuse RGB and depth modalities based on understanding of thesituational uncertainty of each sensor. In a real-world office environment, we achieve 96% task success, improving upon the baseline by +16%.

# #112
De novo mass spectrometry peptide sequencing with a transformer model

Melih Yilmaz · William Fondrie · Wout Bittremieux · Sewoong Oh · William Noble

Tandem mass spectrometry is the only high-throughput method for analyzing the protein content of complex biological samples and is thus the primary technology driving the growth of the field of proteomics. A key outstanding challenge in this field involves identifying the sequence of amino acids -the peptide- responsible for generating each observed spectrum, without making use of prior knowledge in the form of a peptide sequence database. Although various machine learning methods have been developed to address this de novo sequencing problem, challenges that arise when modeling tandem mass spectra have led to complex models that combine multiple neural networks and post-processing steps. We propose a simple yet powerful method for de novo peptide sequencing, Casanovo, that uses a transformer framework to map directly from a sequence of observed peaks (a mass spectrum) to a sequence of amino acids (a peptide). Our experiments show that Casanovo achieves state-of-the-art performance on a benchmark dataset using a standard cross-species evaluation framework which involves testing with spectra with never-before-seen peptide labels. Casanovo not only achieves superior performance but does so at a fraction of the model complexity and inference time required by other methods.

# #114
Outstanding Paper Runner Up
Learning inverse folding from millions of predicted structures

Chloe Hsu · Robert Verkuil · Jason Liu · Zeming Lin · Brian Hie · Tom Sercu · Adam Lerer · Alexander Rives

We consider the problem of predicting a protein sequence from its backbone atom coordinates. Machine learning approaches to this problem to date have been limited by the number of available experimentally determined protein structures. We augment training data by nearly three orders of magnitude by predicting structures for 12M protein sequences using AlphaFold2. Trained with this additional data, a sequence-to-sequence transformer with invariant geometric input processing layers achieves 51% native sequence recovery on structurally held-out backbones with 72% recovery for buried residues, an overall improvement of almost 10 percentage points over existing methods. The model generalizes to a variety of more complex tasks including design of protein complexes, partially masked structures, binding interfaces, and multiple states.

# #116
Guided-TTS: A Diffusion Model for Text-to-Speech via Classifier Guidance

Heeseung Kim · Sungwon Kim · Sungroh Yoon

We propose Guided-TTS, a high-quality text-to-speech (TTS) model that does not require any transcript of target speaker using classifier guidance. Guided-TTS combines an unconditional diffusion probabilistic model with a separately trained phoneme classifier for classifier guidance. Our unconditional diffusion model learns to generate speech without any context from untranscribed speech data. For TTS synthesis, we guide the generative process of the diffusion model with a phoneme classifier trained on a large-scale speech recognition dataset. We present a norm-based scaling method that reduces the pronunciation errors of classifier guidance in Guided-TTS. We show that Guided-TTS achieves a performance comparable to that of the state-of-the-art TTS model, Grad-TTS, without any transcript for LJSpeech. We further demonstrate that Guided-TTS performs well on diverse datasets including a long-form untranscribed dataset.

# #118
MAE-DET: Revisiting Maximum Entropy Principle in Zero-Shot NAS for Efficient Object Detection

Zhenhong Sun · Ming Lin · Xiuyu Sun · Zhiyu Tan · Hao Li · rong jin

In object detection, the detection backbone consumes more than half of the overall inference cost. Recent researches attempt to reduce this cost by optimizing the backbone architecture with the help of Neural Architecture Search (NAS). However, existing NAS methods for object detection require hundreds to thousands of GPU hours of searching, making them impractical in fast-paced research and development. In this work, we propose a novel zero-shot NAS method to address this issue. The proposed method, named MAE-DET, automatically designs efficient detection backbones via the Maximum Entropy Principle without training network parameters, reducing the architecture design cost to nearly zero yet delivering the state-of-the-art (SOTA) performance. Under the hood, MAE-DET maximizes the differential entropy of detection backbones, leading to a better feature extractor for object detection under the same computational budgets. After merely one GPU day of fully automatic design, MAE-DET innovates SOTA detection backbones on multiple detection benchmark datasets with little human intervention. Comparing to ResNet-50 backbone, MAE-DET is $+2.0\%$ better in mAP when using the same amount of FLOPs/parameters, and is $1.54$ times faster on NVIDIA V100 at the same mAP. Code and pre-trained models are available here (

# #120
Proximal Exploration for Model-guided Protein Sequence Design

Zhizhou Ren · Jiahan Li · Fan Ding · Yuan Zhou · Jianzhu Ma · Jian Peng

Designing protein sequences with a particular biological function is a long-lasting challenge for protein engineering. Recent advances in machine-learning-guided approaches focus on building a surrogate sequence-function model to reduce the burden of expensive in-lab experiments. In this paper, we study the exploration mechanism of model-guided sequence design. We leverage a natural property of protein fitness landscape that a concise set of mutations upon the wild-type sequence are usually sufficient to enhance the desired function. By utilizing this property, we propose Proximal Exploration (PEX) algorithm that prioritizes the evolutionary search for high-fitness mutants with low mutation counts. In addition, we develop a specialized model architecture, called Mutation Factorization Network (MuFacNet), to predict low-order mutational effects, which further improves the sample efficiency of model-guided evolution. In experiments, we extensively evaluate our method on a suite of in-silico protein sequence design tasks and demonstrate substantial improvement over baseline algorithms.

# #122
Tranception: Protein Fitness Prediction with Autoregressive Transformers and Inference-time Retrieval

Pascal Notin · Mafalda Dias · Jonathan Frazer · Javier Marchena Hurtado · Aidan Gomez · Debora Marks · Yarin Gal

The ability to accurately model the fitness landscape of protein sequences is critical to a wide range of applications, from quantifying the effects of human variants on disease likelihood, to predicting immune-escape mutations in viruses and designing novel biotherapeutic proteins. Deep generative models of protein sequences trained on multiple sequence alignments have been the most successful approaches so far to address these tasks. The performance of these methods is however contingent on the availability of sufficiently deep and diverse alignments for reliable training. Their potential scope is thus limited by the fact many protein families are hard, if not impossible, to align. Large language models trained on massive quantities of non-aligned protein sequences from diverse families address these problems and show potential to eventually bridge the performance gap. We introduce Tranception, a novel transformer architecture leveraging autoregressive predictions and retrieval of homologous sequences at inference to achieve state-of-the-art fitness prediction performance. Given its markedly higher performance on multiple mutants, robustness to shallow alignments and ability to score indels, our approach offers significant gain of scope over existing approaches. To enable more rigorous model testing across a broader range of protein families, we develop ProteinGym -- an extensive set of multiplexed assays of variant effects, substantially increasing both the number and diversity of assays compared to existing benchmarks.

# #124
How to Fill the Optimum Set? Population Gradient Descent with Harmless Diversity

Chengyue Gong · · Qiang Liu

Although traditional optimization methods focus on finding a single optimal solution, most objective functions in modern machine learning problems, especially those in deep learning, often have multiple or infinite number of optimal points. Therefore, it is useful to consider the problem of finding a set of diverse points in the optimum set of an objective function. In this work, we frame this problem as a bi-level optimization problem of maximizing a diversity score inside the optimum set of the main loss function, and solve it with a simple population gradient descent framework that iteratively updates the points to maximize the diversity score in a fashion that does not hurt the optimization of the main loss. We demonstrate that our method can efficiently generate diverse solutions on multiple applications, e.g. text-to-image generation, text-to-mesh generation, molecular conformation generation and ensemble neural network training.

# #126
Examining Scaling and Transfer of Language Model Architectures for Machine Translation

Biao Zhang · Behrooz Ghorbani · Ankur Bapna · Yong Cheng · Xavier Garcia · Jonathan Shen · Orhan Firat

Natural language understanding and generation models follow one of the two dominant architectural paradigms: language models (LMs) that process concatenated sequences in a single stack of layers, and encoder-decoder models (EncDec) that utilize separate layer stacks for input and output processing. In machine translation, EncDec has long been the favoured approach, but with few studies investigating the performance of LMs. In this work, we thoroughly examine the role of several architectural design choices on the performance of LMs on bilingual, (massively) multilingual and zero-shot translation tasks, under systematic variations of data conditions and model sizes. Our results show that: (i) Different LMs have different scaling properties, where architectural differences often have a significant impact on model performance at small scales, but the performance gap narrows as the number of parameters increases, (ii) Several design choices, including causal masking and language-modeling objectives for the source sequence, have detrimental effects on translation quality, and (iii) When paired with full-visible masking for source sequences, LMs could perform on par with EncDec on supervised bilingual and multilingual translation tasks, and improve greatly on zero-shot directions by facilitating the reduction of off-target translations.

# #128
State Transition of Dendritic Spines Improves Learning of Sparse Spiking Neural Networks

Yanqi Chen · Zhaofei Yu · Wei Fang · Zhengyu Ma · Tiejun Huang · Yonghong Tian

Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) are considered a promising alternative to Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) for their event-driven computing paradigm when deployed on energy-efficient neuromorphic hardware. Recently, deep SNNs have shown breathtaking performance improvement through cutting-edge training strategy and flexible structure, which also scales up the number of parameters and computational burdens in a single network. Inspired by the state transition of dendritic spines in the filopodial model of spinogenesis, we model different states of SNN weights, facilitating weight optimization for pruning. Furthermore, the pruning speed can be regulated by using different functions describing the growing threshold of state transition. We organize these techniques as a dynamic pruning algorithm based on nonlinear reparameterization mapping from spine size to SNN weights. Our approach yields sparse deep networks on the large-scale dataset (SEW ResNet18 on ImageNet) while maintaining state-of-the-art low performance loss (~3% at 88.8% sparsity) compared to existing pruning methods on directly trained SNNs. Moreover, we find out pruning speed regulation while learning is crucial to avoiding disastrous performance degradation at the final stages of training, which may shed light on future work on SNN pruning.

# #133
MemSR: Training Memory-efficient Lightweight Model for Image Super-Resolution

Kailu Wu · Chung-Kuei Lee · Kaisheng Ma

Methods based on deep neural networks with a massive number of layers and skip-connections have made impressive improvements on single image super-resolution (SISR). The skip-connections in these complex models boost the performance at the cost of a large amount of memory. With the increase of camera resolution from 1 million pixels to 100 million pixels on mobile phones, the memory footprint of these algorithms also increases hundreds of times, which restricts the applicability of these models on memory-limited devices. A plain model consisting of a stack of 3×3 convolutions with ReLU, in contrast, has the highest memory efficiency but poorly performs on super-resolution. This paper aims at calculating a winning initialization from a complex teacher network for a plain student network, which can provide performance comparable to complex models. To this end, we convert the teacher model to an equivalent large plain model and derive the plain student's initialization. We further improve the student's performance through initialization-aware feature distillation. Extensive experiments suggest that the proposed method results in a model with a competitive trade-off between accuracy and speed at a much lower memory footprint than other state-of-the-art lightweight approaches.

# #131
PINs: Progressive Implicit Networks for Multi-Scale Neural Representations

Zoe Landgraf · Alexander Sorkine Hornung · ricardo cabral

Multi-layer perceptrons (MLP) have proven to be effective scene encoders when combined with higher-dimensional projections of the input, commonly referred to as positional encoding.However, scenes with a wide frequency spectrum remain a challenge: choosing high frequencies for positional encoding introduces noise in low structure areas, while low frequencies results in poor fitting of detailed regions. To address this, we propose a progressive positional encoding, exposing a hierarchical MLP structure to incremental sets of frequency encodings.Our model accurately reconstructs scenes with wide frequency bands and learns a scene representation at progressive level of detail without explicit per-level supervision. The architecture is modular: each level encodes a continuous implicit representation that can be leveraged separately for its respective resolution, meaning a smaller network for coarser reconstructions.Experiments on several 2D and 3D datasets shows improvements in reconstruction accuracy, representational capacity and training speed compared to baselines.

# #129
Translating Robot Skills: Learning Unsupervised Skill Correspondences Across Robots

Tanmay Shankar · Yixin Lin · Aravind Rajeswaran · Vikash Kumar · Stuart Anderson · Jean Oh

In this paper, we explore how we can endow robots with the ability to learn correspondences between their own skills, and those of morphologically different robots in different domains, in an entirely unsupervised manner. We make the insight that different morphological robots use similar task strategies to solve similar tasks. Based on this insight, we frame learning skill correspondences as a problem of matching distributions of sequences of skills across robots. We then present an unsupervised objective that encourages a learnt skill translation model to match these distributions across domains, inspired by recent advances in unsupervised machine translation. Our approach is able to learn semantically meaningful correspondences between skills across multiple robot-robot and human-robot domain pairs despite being completely unsupervised. Further, the learnt correspondences enable the transfer of task strategies across robots and domains. We present dynamic visualizations of our results at

# #127
ROCK: Causal Inference Principles for Reasoning about Commonsense Causality

Jiayao Zhang · Hongming ZHANG · Weijie Su · Dan Roth

Commonsense causality reasoning (CCR) aims at identifying plausible causes and effects in natural language descriptions that are deemed reasonable by an average person. Although being of great academic and practical interest, this problem is still shadowed by the lack of a well-posed theoretical framework; existing work usually relies on deep language models wholeheartedly, and is potentially susceptible to confounding co-occurrences. Motivated by classical causal principles, we articulate the central question of CCR and draw parallels between human subjects in observational studies and natural languages to adopt CCR to the potential-outcomes framework, which is the first such attempt for commonsense tasks. We propose a novel framework, ROCK, to Reason O(A)bout Commonsense K(C)ausality, which utilizes temporal signals as incidental supervision, and balances confounding effects using temporal propensities that are analogous to propensity scores. The ROCK implementation is modular and zero-shot, and demonstrates good CCR capabilities.

# #125
Generative Coarse-Graining of Molecular Conformations

Wujie Wang · Minkai Xu · Chen Cai · Benjamin Kurt Miller · Tess Smidt · Yusu Wang · Jian Tang · Rafael Gomez-Bombarelli

Coarse-graining (CG) of molecular simulations simplifies the particle representation by grouping selected atoms into pseudo-beads and therefore drastically accelerates simulation. However, such CG procedure induces information losses, which makes accurate backmapping, i.e., restoring fine-grained (FG) coordinates from CG coordinates, a long-standing challenge. Inspired by the recent progress in generative models and equivariant networks, we propose a novel model that rigorously embeds the vital probabilistic nature and geometrical consistency requirements of the backmapping transformation. Our model encodes the FG uncertainties into an invariant latent space and decodes them back to FG geometries via equivariant convolutions. To standardize the evaluation of this domain, we further provide three comprehensive benchmarks based on molecular dynamics trajectories. Extensive experiments show that our approach always recovers more realistic structures and outperforms existing data-driven methods with a significant margin.

# #123
LIMO: Latent Inceptionism for Targeted Molecule Generation

Peter Eckmann · Kunyang Sun · Bo Zhao · Mudong Feng · Michael Gilson · Rose Yu

Generation of drug-like molecules with high binding affinity to target proteins remains a difficult and resource-intensive task in drug discovery. Existing approaches primarily employ reinforcement learning, Markov sampling, or deep generative models guided by Gaussian processes, which can be prohibitively slow when generating molecules with high binding affinity calculated by computationally-expensive physics-based methods. We present Latent Inceptionism on Molecules (LIMO), which significantly accelerates molecule generation with an inceptionism-like technique. LIMO employs a variational autoencoder-generated latent space and property prediction by two neural networks in sequence to enable faster gradient-based reverse-optimization of molecular properties. Comprehensive experiments show that LIMO performs competitively on benchmark tasks and markedly outperforms state-of-the-art techniques on the novel task of generating drug-like compounds with high binding affinity, reaching nanomolar range against two protein targets. We corroborate these docking-based results with more accurate molecular dynamics-based calculations of absolute binding free energy and show that one of our generated drug-like compounds has a predicted $K_D$ (a measure of binding affinity) of $6 \cdot 10^{-14}$ M against the human estrogen receptor, well beyond the affinities of typical early-stage drug candidates and most FDA-approved drugs to their respective targets. Code is available at

# #121
Learning to Separate Voices by Spatial Regions

Zhongweiyang Xu · Romit Roy Choudhury

We consider the problem of audio voice separation for binaural applications, such as earphones and hearing aids. While today's neural networks perform remarkably well (separating 4+ sources with 2 microphones) they assume a known or fixed maximum number of sources, K. Moreover, today's models are trained in a supervised manner, using training data synthesized from generic sources, environments, and human head shapes.This paper intends to relax both these constraints at the expense of a slight alteration in the problem definition. We observe that, when a received mixture contains too many sources, it is still helpful to separate them by region, i.e., isolating signal mixtures from each conical sector around the user's head. This requires learning the fine-grained spatial properties of each region, including the signal distortions imposed by a person's head. We propose a two-stage self-supervised framework in which overheard voices from earphones are pre-processed to extract relatively clean personalized signals, which are then used to train a region-wise separation model. Results show promising performance, underscoring the importance of personalization over a generic supervised approach. (audio samples available at our project website: We believe this result could help real-world applications in selective hearing, noise cancellation, and audio augmented reality.

# #119
3DLinker: An E(3) Equivariant Variational Autoencoder for Molecular Linker Design

Yinan Huang · Xingang Peng · Jianzhu Ma · Muhan Zhang

Deep learning has achieved tremendous success in designing novel chemical compounds with desirable pharmaceutical properties. In this work, we focus on a new type of drug design problem --- generating a small ``linker'' to physically attach two independent molecules with their distinct functions. The main computational challenges include: 1) the generation of linkers is conditional on the two given molecules, in contrast to generating complete molecules from scratch in previous works; 2) linkers heavily depend on the anchor atoms of the two molecules to be connected, which are not known beforehand; 3) 3D structures and orientations of the molecules need to be considered to avoid atom clashes, for which equivariance to E(3) group are necessary. To address these problems, we propose a conditional generative model, named 3DLinker, which is able to predict anchor atoms and jointly generate linker graphs and their 3D structures based on an E(3) equivariant graph variational autoencoder. So far as we know, no previous models could achieve this task. We compare our model with multiple conditional generative models modified from other molecular design tasks and find that our model has a significantly higher rate in recovering molecular graphs, and more importantly, accurately predicting the 3D coordinates of all the atoms.

# #117
3D Infomax improves GNNs for Molecular Property Prediction

Hannes Stärk · Dominique Beaini · Gabriele Corso · Prudencio Tossou · Christian Dallago · Stephan Günnemann · Pietro Lió

Molecular property prediction is one of the fastest-growing applications of deep learning with critical real-world impacts. Although the 3D molecular graph structure is necessary for models to achieve strong performance on many tasks, it is infeasible to obtain 3D structures at the scale required by many real-world applications. To tackle this issue, we propose to use existing 3D molecular datasets to pre-train a model to reason about the geometry of molecules given only their 2D molecular graphs. Our method, called 3D Infomax, maximizes the mutual information between learned 3D summary vectors and the representations of a graph neural network (GNN). During fine-tuning on molecules with unknown geometry, the GNN is still able to produce implicit 3D information and uses it for downstream tasks. We show that 3D Infomax provides significant improvements for a wide range of properties, including a 22% average MAE reduction on QM9 quantum mechanical properties. Moreover, the learned representations can be effectively transferred between datasets in different molecular spaces.

# #115
Biological Sequence Design with GFlowNets

Moksh Jain · Emmanuel Bengio · Alex Hernandez-Garcia · Jarrid Rector-Brooks · Bonaventure Dossou · Chanakya Ekbote · Jie Fu · Tianyu Zhang · Michael Kilgour · Dinghuai Zhang · Lena Simine · Payel Das · Yoshua Bengio

Design of de novo biological sequences with desired properties, like protein and DNA sequences, often involves an active loop with several rounds of molecule ideation and expensive wet-lab evaluations. These experiments can consist of multiple stages, with increasing levels of precision and cost of evaluation, where candidates are filtered. This makes the diversity of proposed candidates a key consideration in the ideation phase. In this work, we propose an active learning algorithm leveraging epistemic uncertainty estimation and the recently proposed GFlowNets as a generator of diverse candidate solutions, with the objective to obtain a diverse batch of useful (as defined by some utility function, for example, the predicted anti-microbial activity of a peptide) and informative candidates after each round. We also propose a scheme to incorporate existing labeled datasets of candidates, in addition to a reward function, to speed up learning in GFlowNets. We present empirical results on several biological sequence design tasks, and we find that our method generates more diverse and novel batches with high scoring candidates compared to existing approaches.

# #113
Pocket2Mol: Efficient Molecular Sampling Based on 3D Protein Pockets

Xingang Peng · Shitong Luo · Jiaqi Guan · Qi Xie · Jian Peng · Jianzhu Ma

Deep generative models have achieved tremendous success in designing novel drug molecules in recent years. A new thread of works have shown potential in advancing the specificity and success rate of in silico drug design by considering the structure of protein pockets. This setting posts fundamental computational challenges in sampling new chemical compounds that could satisfy multiple geometrical constraints imposed by pockets. Previous sampling algorithms either sample in the graph space or only consider the 3D coordinates of atoms while ignoring other detailed chemical structures such as bond types and functional groups. To address the challenge, we develop an E(3)-equivariant generative network composed of two modules: 1) a new graph neural network capturing both spatial and bonding relationships between atoms of the binding pockets and 2) a new efficient algorithm which samples new drug candidates conditioned on the pocket representations from a tractable distribution without relying on MCMC. Experimental results demonstrate that molecules sampled from Pocket2Mol achieve significantly better binding affinity and other drug properties such as drug-likeness and synthetic accessibility.

# #111
Retroformer: Pushing the Limits of End-to-end Retrosynthesis Transformer

Yue Wan · Chang-Yu (Kim) Hsieh · Ben Liao · Shengyu Zhang

Retrosynthesis prediction is one of the fundamental challenges in organic synthesis. The task is to predict the reactants given a core product. With the advancement of machine learning, computer-aided synthesis planning has gained increasing interest. Numerous methods were proposed to solve this problem with different levels of dependency on additional chemical knowledge. In this paper, we propose Retroformer, a novel Transformer-based architecture for retrosynthesis prediction without relying on any cheminformatics tools for molecule editing. Via the proposed local attention head, the model can jointly encode the molecular sequence and graph, and efficiently exchange information between the local reactive region and the global reaction context. Retroformer reaches the new state-of-the-art accuracy for the end-to-end template-free retrosynthesis, and improves over many strong baselines on better molecule and reaction validity. In addition, its generative procedure is highly interpretable and controllable. Overall, Retroformer pushes the limits of the reaction reasoning ability of deep generative models.

# #109
Constrained Optimization with Dynamic Bound-scaling for Effective NLP Backdoor Defense

Guangyu Shen · Yingqi Liu · Guanhong Tao · Qiuling Xu · ZHUO ZHANG · Shengwei An · Shiqing Ma · Xiangyu Zhang

Modern language models are vulnerable to backdoor attacks. An injected malicious token sequence (i.e., a trigger) can cause the compromised model to misbehave, raising security concerns. Trigger inversion is a widely-used technique for scanning backdoors in vision models. It can- not be directly applied to NLP models due to their discrete nature. In this paper, we develop a novel optimization method for NLP backdoor inversion. We leverage a dynamically reducing temperature coefficient in the softmax function to provide changing loss landscapes to the optimizer such that the process gradually focuses on the ground truth trigger, which is denoted as a one-hot value in a convex hull. Our method also features a temperature rollback mechanism to step away from local optimals, exploiting the observation that local optimals can be easily determined in NLP trigger inversion (while not in general optimization). We evaluate the technique on over 1600 models (with roughly half of them having injected backdoors) on 3 prevailing NLP tasks, with 4 different backdoor attacks and 7 architectures. Our results show that the technique is able to effectively and efficiently detect and remove backdoors, outperforming 5 baseline methods. The code is available at https: //

# #107
Path-Aware and Structure-Preserving Generation of Synthetically Accessible Molecules

Juhwan Noh · Dae-Woong Jeong · Kiyoung Kim · Sehui Han · Moontae Lee · Honglak Lee · Yousung Jung

Computational chemistry aims to autonomously design specific molecules with target functionality. Generative frameworks provide useful tools to learn continuous representations of molecules in a latent space. While modelers could optimize chemical properties, many generated molecules are not synthesizable. To design synthetically accessible molecules that preserve main structural motifs of target molecules, we propose a reaction-embedded and structure-conditioned variational autoencoder. As the latent space jointly encodes molecular structures and their reaction routes, our new sampling method that measures the path-informed structural similarity allows us to effectively generate structurally analogous synthesizable molecules. When targeting out-of-domain as well as in-domain seed structures, our model generates structurally and property-wisely similar molecules equipped with well-defined reaction paths. By focusing on the important region in chemical space, we also demonstrate that our model can design new molecules with even higher activity than the seed molecules.

# #105
EquiBind: Geometric Deep Learning for Drug Binding Structure Prediction

Hannes Stärk · Octavian Ganea · Lagnajit Pattanaik · Regina Barzilay · Tommi Jaakkola

Predicting how a drug-like molecule binds to a specific protein target is a core problem in drug discovery. An extremely fast computational binding method would enable key applications such as fast virtual screening or drug engineering. Existing methods are computationally expensive as they rely on heavy candidate sampling coupled with scoring, ranking, and fine-tuning steps. We challenge this paradigm with EquiBind, an SE(3)-equivariant geometric deep learning model performing direct-shot prediction of both i) the receptor binding location (blind docking) and ii) the ligand's bound pose and orientation. EquiBind achieves significant speed-ups and better quality compared to traditional and recent baselines. Further, we show extra improvements when coupling it with existing fine-tuning techniques at the cost of increased running time. Finally, we propose a novel and fast fine-tuning model that adjusts torsion angles of a ligand's rotatable bonds based on closed form global minima of the von Mises angular distance to a given input atomic point cloud, avoiding previous expensive differential evolution strategies for energy minimization.

# #208
SoQal: Selective Oracle Questioning for Consistency Based Active Learning of Cardiac Signals

Dani Kiyasseh · Tingting Zhu · David Clifton

Clinical settings are often characterized by abundant unlabelled data and limited labelled data. This is typically driven by the high burden placed on oracles (e.g., physicians) to provide annotations. One way to mitigate this burden is via active learning (AL) which involves the (a) acquisition and (b) annotation of informative unlabelled instances. Whereas previous work addresses either one of these elements independently, we propose an AL framework that addresses both. For acquisition, we propose Bayesian Active Learning by Consistency (BALC), a sub-framework which perturbs both instances and network parameters and quantifies changes in the network output probability distribution. For annotation, we propose SoQal, a sub-framework that dynamically determines whether, for each acquired unlabelled instance, to request a label from an oracle or to pseudo-label it instead. We show that BALC can outperform start-of-the-art acquisition functions such as BALD, and SoQal outperforms baseline methods even in the presence of a noisy oracle.

# #210
Matching Structure for Dual Learning

Hao Fei · Shengqiong Wu · Yafeng Ren · Meishan Zhang

Many natural language processing (NLP) tasks appear in dual forms, which are generally solved by dual learning technique that models the dualities between the coupled tasks. In this work, we propose to further enhance dual learning with structure matching that explicitly builds structural connections in between. Starting with the dual text$\leftrightarrow$text generation, we perform dually-syntactic structure co-echoing of the region of interest (RoI) between the task pair, together with a syntax cross-reconstruction at the decoding side. We next extend the idea to a text$\leftrightarrow$non-text setup, making alignment between the syntactic-semantic structure. Over 2*14 tasks covering 5 dual learning scenarios, the proposed structure matching method shows its significant effectiveness in enhancing existing dual learning. Our method can retrieve the key RoIs that are highly crucial to the task performance. Besides NLP tasks, it is also revealed that our approach has great potential in facilitating more non-text$\leftrightarrow$non-text scenarios.

# #212
BLIP: Bootstrapping Language-Image Pre-training for Unified Vision-Language Understanding and Generation

Junnan Li · DONGXU LI · Caiming Xiong · Steven Hoi

Vision-Language Pre-training (VLP) has advanced the performance for many vision-language tasks. However, most existing pre-trained models only excel in either understanding-based tasks or generation-based tasks. Furthermore, performance improvement has been largely achieved by scaling up the dataset with noisy image-text pairs collected from the web, which is a suboptimal source of supervision. In this paper, we propose BLIP, a new VLP framework which transfers flexibly to both vision-language understanding and generation tasks. BLIP effectively utilizes the noisy web data by bootstrapping the captions, where a captioner generates synthetic captions and a filter removes the noisy ones. We achieve state-of-the-art results on a wide range of vision-language tasks, such as image-text retrieval (+2.7% in average recall@1), image captioning (+2.8% in CIDEr), and VQA (+1.6% in VQA score). BLIP also demonstrates strong generalization ability when directly transferred to video-language tasks in a zero-shot manner. Code and models are available at

# #214
YourTTS: Towards Zero-Shot Multi-Speaker TTS and Zero-Shot Voice Conversion for Everyone

Edresson Casanova · Julian Weber · Christopher Shulby · Arnaldo Candido Junior · Eren Gölge · Moacir Ponti

YourTTS brings the power of a multilingual approach to the task of zero-shot multi-speaker TTS. Our method builds upon the VITS model and adds several novel modifications for zero-shot multi-speaker and multilingual training. We achieved state-of-the-art (SOTA) results in zero-shot multi-speaker TTS and results comparable to SOTA in zero-shot voice conversion on the VCTK dataset. Additionally, our approach achieves promising results in a target language with a single-speaker dataset, opening possibilities for zero-shot multi-speaker TTS and zero-shot voice conversion systems in low-resource languages. Finally, it is possible to fine-tune the YourTTS model with less than 1 minute of speech and achieve state-of-the-art results in voice similarity and with reasonable quality. This is important to allow synthesis for speakers with a very different voice or recording characteristics from those seen during training.

# #216
Inducing Causal Structure for Interpretable Neural Networks

Atticus Geiger · Zhengxuan Wu · Hanson Lu · Joshua Rozner · Elisa Kreiss · Thomas Icard · Noah Goodman · Christopher Potts

In many areas, we have well-founded insights about causal structure that would be useful to bring into our trained models while still allowing them to learn in a data-driven fashion. To achieve this, we present the new method of interchange intervention training (IIT). In IIT, we (1) align variables in a causal model (e.g., a deterministic program or Bayesian network) with representations in a neural model and (2) train the neural model to match the counterfactual behavior of the causal model on a base input when aligned representations in both models are set to be the value they would be for a source input. IIT is fully differentiable, flexibly combines with other objectives, and guarantees that the target causal model is a causal abstraction of the neural model when its loss is zero. We evaluate IIT on a structural vision task (MNIST-PVR), a navigational language task (ReaSCAN), and a natural language inference task (MQNLI). We compare IIT against multi-task training objectives and data augmentation. In all our experiments, IIT achieves the best results and produces neural models that are more interpretable in the sense that they more successfully realize the target causal model.

# #218
SDQ: Stochastic Differentiable Quantization with Mixed Precision

Xijie Huang · Zhiqiang Shen · Shichao Li · Zechun Liu · Hu Xianghong · Jeffry Wicaksana · Eric Xing · Kwang-Ting Cheng

In order to deploy deep models in a computationally efficient manner, model quantization approaches have been frequently used. In addition, as new hardware that supports various-bit arithmetic operations, recent research on mixed precision quantization (MPQ) begins to fully leverage the capacity of representation by searching various bitwidths for different layers and modules in a network. However, previous studies mainly search the MPQ strategy in a costly scheme using reinforcement learning, neural architecture search, etc., or simply utilize partial prior knowledge for bitwidth distribution, which might be biased and sub-optimal. In this work, we present a novel Stochastic Differentiable Quantization (SDQ) method that can automatically learn the MPQ strategy in a more flexible and globally-optimized space with a smoother gradient approximation. Particularly, Differentiable Bitwidth Parameters (DBPs) are employed as the probability factors in stochastic quantization between adjacent bitwidth. After the optimal MPQ strategy is acquired, we further train our network with the entropy-aware bin regularization and knowledge distillation. We extensively evaluate our method on different networks, hardwares (GPUs and FPGA), and datasets. SDQ outperforms all other state-of-the-art mixed or single precision quantization with less bitwidth, and are even better than the original full-precision counterparts across various ResNet and MobileNet families, demonstrating the effectiveness and superiority of our method. Code will be publicly available.

# #220
IGLUE: A Benchmark for Transfer Learning across Modalities, Tasks, and Languages

Emanuele Bugliarello · Fangyu Liu · Jonas Pfeiffer · Siva Reddy · Desmond Elliott · Edoardo Maria Ponti · Ivan Vulić

Reliable evaluation benchmarks designed for replicability and comprehensiveness have driven progress in machine learning. Due to the lack of a multilingual benchmark, however, vision-and-language research has mostly focused on English language tasks. To fill this gap, we introduce the Image-Grounded Language Understanding Evaluation benchmark. IGLUE brings together—by both aggregating pre-existing datasets and creating new ones—visual question answering, cross-modal retrieval, grounded reasoning, and grounded entailment tasks across 20 diverse languages. Our benchmark enables the evaluation of multilingual multimodal models for transfer learning, not only in a zero-shot setting, but also in newly defined few-shot learning setups. Based on the evaluation of the available state-of-the-art models, we find that translate-test transfer is superior to zero-shot transfer and that few-shot learning is hard to harness for many tasks. Moreover, downstream performance is partially explained by the amount of available unlabelled textual data for pretraining, and only weakly by the typological distance of target–source languages. We hope to encourage future research efforts in this area by releasing the benchmark to the community.

# #222
Re-evaluating Word Mover's Distance

Ryoma Sato · Makoto Yamada · Hisashi Kashima

The word mover's distance (WMD) is a fundamental technique for measuring the similarity of two documents. As the crux of WMD, it can take advantage of the underlying geometry of the word space by employing an optimal transport formulation. The original study on WMD reported that WMD outperforms classical baselines such as bag-of-words (BOW) and TF-IDF by significant margins in various datasets. In this paper, we point out that the evaluation in the original study could be misleading. We re-evaluate the performances of WMD and the classical baselines and find that the classical baselines are competitive with WMD if we employ an appropriate preprocessing, i.e., L1 normalization. In addition, we introduce an analogy between WMD and L1-normalized BOW and find that not only the performance of WMD but also the distance values resemble those of BOW in high dimensional spaces.

# #224
Translatotron 2: High-quality direct speech-to-speech translation with voice preservation

Ye Jia · Michelle Tadmor Ramanovich · Tal Remez · Roi Pomerantz

We present Translatotron 2, a neural direct speech-to-speech translation model that can be trained end-to-end. Translatotron 2 consists of a speech encoder, a linguistic decoder, an acoustic synthesizer, and a single attention module that connects them together. Experimental results on three datasets consistently show that Translatotron 2 outperforms the original Translatotron by a large margin on both translation quality (up to +15.5 BLEU) and speech generation quality, and approaches the same of cascade systems. In addition, we propose a simple method for preserving speakers' voices from the source speech to the translation speech in a different language. Unlike existing approaches, the proposed method is able to preserve each speaker's voice on speaker turns without requiring for speaker segmentation. Furthermore, compared to existing approaches, it better preserves speaker's privacy and mitigates potential misuse of voice cloning for creating spoofing audio artifacts.

# #231
Contrastive Mixture of Posteriors for Counterfactual Inference, Data Integration and Fairness

Adam Foster · Arpi Vezer · Craig Glastonbury · Páidí Creed · Sam Abujudeh · Aaron Sim

Learning meaningful representations of data that can address challenges such as batch effect correction and counterfactual inference is a central problem in many domains including computational biology. Adopting a Conditional VAE framework, we show that marginal independence between the representation and a condition variable plays a key role in both of these challenges. We propose the Contrastive Mixture of Posteriors (CoMP) method that uses a novel misalignment penalty defined in terms of mixtures of the variational posteriors to enforce this independence in latent space. We show that CoMP has attractive theoretical properties compared to previous approaches, and we prove counterfactual identifiability of CoMP under additional assumptions. We demonstrate state-of-the-art performance on a set of challenging tasks including aligning human tumour samples with cancer cell-lines, predicting transcriptome-level perturbation responses, and batch correction on single-cell RNA sequencing data. We also find parallels to fair representation learning and demonstrate that CoMP is competitive on a common task in the field.

# #226
Robust alignment of cross-session recordings of neural population activity by behaviour via unsupervised domain adaptation

Justin Jude · Matthew G. Perich · Lee Miller · Matthias Hennig

Neural population activity relating to behaviour is assumed to be inherently low-dimensional despite the observed high dimensionality of data recorded using multi-electrode arrays. Therefore, predicting behaviour from neural population recordings has been shown to be most effective when using latent variable models. Over time however, the activity of single neurons can drift, and different neurons will be recorded due to movement of implanted neural probes. This means that a decoder trained to predict behaviour on one day performs worse when tested on a different day. On the other hand, evidence suggests that the latent dynamics underlying behaviour may be stable even over months and years. Based on this idea, we introduce a model capable of inferring behaviourally relevant latent dynamics from previously unseen data recorded from the same animal, without any need for decoder recalibration. We show that unsupervised domain adaptation combined with a sequential variational autoencoder, trained on several sessions, can achieve good generalisation to unseen data and correctly predict behaviour where conventional methods fail. Our results further support the hypothesis that behaviour-related neural dynamics are low-dimensional and stable over time, and will enable more effective and flexible use of brain computer interface technologies.

# #228
Symmetric Machine Theory of Mind

Melanie Sclar · Graham Neubig · Yonatan Bisk

Theory of mind, the ability to model others' thoughts and desires, is a cornerstone of human social intelligence. This makes it an important challenge for the machine learning community, but previous works mainly attempt to design agents that model the "mental state" of others as passive observers or in specific predefined roles, such as in speaker-listener scenarios. In contrast, we propose to model machine theory of mind in a more general symmetric scenario. We introduce a multi-agent environment SymmToM where, like in real life, all agents can speak, listen, see other agents, and move freely through the world. Effective strategies to maximize an agent's reward require it to develop a theory of mind. We show that reinforcement learning agents that model the mental states of others achieve significant performance improvements over agents with no such theory of mind model. Importantly, our best agents still fail to achieve performance comparable to agents with access to the gold-standard mental state of other agents, demonstrating that the modeling of theory of mind in multi-agent scenarios is very much an open challenge.

# #230
PLATON: Pruning Large Transformer Models with Upper Confidence Bound of Weight Importance

Qingru Zhang · Simiao Zuo · Chen Liang · Alexander Bukharin · Pengcheng He · Weizhu Chen · Tuo Zhao

Large Transformer-based models have exhibited superior performance in various natural language processing and computer vision tasks. However, these models contain enormous amounts of parameters, which restrict their deployment to real-world applications. To reduce the model size, researchers prune these models based on the weights' importance scores. However, such scores are usually estimated on mini-batches during training, which incurs large variability/uncertainty due to mini-batch sampling and complicated training dynamics. As a result, some crucial weights could be pruned by commonly used pruning methods because of such uncertainty, which makes training unstable and hurts generalization. To resolve this issue, we propose PLATON, which captures the uncertainty of importance scores by upper confidence bound of importance estimation. In particular, for the weights with low importance scores but high uncertainty, PLATON tends to retain them and explores their capacity. We conduct extensive experiments with several Transformer-based models on natural language understanding, question answering and image classification to validate the effectiveness of PLATON. Results demonstrate that PLATON manifests notable improvement under different sparsity levels. Our code is publicly available at

# #232
LCANets: Lateral Competition Improves Robustness Against Corruption and Attack

Michael Teti · Garrett T Kenyon · Benjamin Migliori · Juston Moore

Although Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) achieve high accuracy on image recognition tasks, they lack robustness against realistic corruptions and fail catastrophically when deliberately attacked. Previous CNNs with representations similar to primary visual cortex (V1) were more robust to adversarial attacks on images than current adversarial defense techniques, but they required training on large-scale neural recordings or handcrafting neuroscientific models. Motivated by evidence that neural activity in V1 is sparse, we develop a class of hybrid CNNs, called LCANets, which feature a frontend that performs sparse coding via local lateral competition. We demonstrate that LCANets achieve competitive clean accuracy to standard CNNs on action and image recognition tasks and significantly greater accuracy under various image corruptions. We also perform the first adversarial attacks with full knowledge of a sparse coding CNN layer by attacking LCANets with white-box and black-box attacks, and we show that, contrary to previous hypotheses, sparse coding layers are not very robust to white-box attacks. Finally, we propose a way to use sparse coding layers as a plug-and-play robust frontend by showing that they significantly increase the robustness of adversarially-trained CNNs over corruptions and attacks.

# #234
Reconstructing Nonlinear Dynamical Systems from Multi-Modal Time Series

Daniel Kramer · Philine Bommer · Carlo Tombolini · Georgia Koppe · Daniel Durstewitz

Empirically observed time series in physics, biology, or medicine, are commonly generated by some underlying dynamical system (DS) which is the target of scientific interest. There is an increasing interest to harvest machine learning methods to reconstruct this latent DS in a data-driven, unsupervised way. In many areas of science it is common to sample time series observations from many data modalities simultaneously, e.g. electrophysiological and behavioral time series in a typical neuroscience experiment. However, current machine learning tools for reconstructing DSs usually focus on just one data modality. Here we propose a general framework for multi-modal data integration for the purpose of nonlinear DS reconstruction and the analysis of cross-modal relations. This framework is based on dynamically interpretable recurrent neural networks as general approximators of nonlinear DSs, coupled to sets of modality-specific decoder models from the class of generalized linear models. Both an expectation-maximization and a variational inference algorithm for model training are advanced and compared. We show on nonlinear DS benchmarks that our algorithms can efficiently compensate for too noisy or missing information in one data channel by exploiting other channels, and demonstrate on experimental neuroscience data how the algorithm learns to link different data domains to the underlying dynamics.

# #236
Neural Language Models are not Born Equal to Fit Brain Data, but Training Helps

Alexandre Pasquiou · Yair Lakretz · John Hale · Thirion Bertrand · Christophe Pallier

Neural Language Models (NLMs) have made tremendous advances during the last years, achieving impressive performance on various linguistic tasks.Capitalizing on this, studies in neuroscience have started to use NLMs to study neural activity in the human brain during language processing.However, many questions remain unanswered regarding which factors determine the ability of a neural language model to capture brain activity (aka its 'brain score').Here, we make first steps in this direction and examine the impact of test loss, training corpus and model architecture (comparing GloVe, LSTM, GPT-2 and BERT), on the prediction of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging time-courses of participants listening to an audiobook.We find that (1) untrained versions of each model already explain significant amount of signal in the brain by capturing similarity in brain responses across identical words, with the untrained LSTM outperforming the transformer-based models, being less impacted by the effect of context; (2) that training NLP models improves brain scores in the same brain regions irrespective of the model's architecture; (3) that Perplexity (test loss) is not a good predictor of brain score; (4) that training data have a strong influence on the outcome and, notably, that off-the-shelf models may lack statistical power to detect brain activations. Overall, we outline the impact of model-training choices, and suggest good practices for future studies aiming at explaining the human language system using neural language models.

# #237
Towards understanding how momentum improves generalization in deep learning

Samy Jelassi · Yuanzhi Li

Stochastic gradient descent (SGD) with momentum is widely used for training modern deep learning architectures. While it is well-understood that using momentum can lead to faster convergence rate in various settings, it has also been observed that momentum yields higher generalization. Prior work argue that momentum stabilizes the SGD noise during training and this leads to higher generalization. In this paper, we adopt another perspective and first empirically show that gradient descent with momentum (GD+M) significantly improves generalization compared to gradient descent (GD) in some deep learning problems. From this observation, we formally study how momentum improves generalization. We devise a binary classification setting where a one-hidden layer (over-parameterized) convolutional neural network trained with GD+M provably generalizes better than the same network trained with GD, when both algorithms are similarly initialized. The key insight in our analysis is that momentum is beneficial in datasets where the examples share some feature but differ in their margin. Contrary to GD that memorizes the small margin data, GD+M still learns the feature in these data thanks to its historical gradients. Lastly, we empirically validate our theoretical findings.

# #235
What Can Linear Interpolation of Neural Network Loss Landscapes Tell Us?

Tiffany Vlaar · Jonathan Frankle

Studying neural network loss landscapes provides insights into the nature of the underlying optimization problems. Unfortunately, loss landscapes are notoriously difficult to visualize in a human-comprehensible fashion. One common way to address this problem is to plot linear slices of the landscape, for example from the initial state of the network to the final state after optimization. On the basis of this analysis, prior work has drawn broader conclusions about the difficulty of the optimization problem. In this paper, we put inferences of this kind to the test, systematically evaluating how linear interpolation and final performance vary when altering the data, choice of initialization, and other optimizer and architecture design choices. Further, we use linear interpolation to study the role played by individual layers and substructures of the network. We find that certain layers are more sensitive to the choice of initialization, but that the shape of the linear path is not indicative of the changes in test accuracy of the model. Our results cast doubt on the broader intuition that the presence or absence of barriers when interpolating necessarily relates to the success of optimization.

# #233
Deep equilibrium networks are sensitive to initialization statistics

Atish Agarwala · Samuel Schoenholz

Deep equilibrium networks (DEQs) are a promising way to construct models which trade off memory for compute. However, theoretical understanding of these models is still lacking compared to traditional networks, in part because of the repeated application of a single set of weights. We show that DEQs are sensitive to the higher order statistics of the matrix families from which they are initialized. In particular, initializing with orthogonal or symmetric matrices allows for greater stability in training. This gives us a practical prescription for initializations which allow for training with a broader range of initial weight scales.

# #229
Scaling-up Diverse Orthogonal Convolutional Networks by a Paraunitary Framework

Jiahao Su · Wonmin Byeon · Furong Huang

Enforcing orthogonality in convolutional neural networks is a remedy for gradient vanishing/exploding problems and sensitivity to perturbation. Many previous approaches for orthogonal convolutions enforce orthogonality on its flattened kernel, which, however, do not lead to the orthogonality of the operation. Some recent approaches consider orthogonality for standard convolutional layers and propose specific classes of their realizations. In this work, we propose a theoretical framework that establishes the equivalence between diverse orthogonal convolutional layers in the spatial domain and the paraunitary systems in the spectral domain. Since 1D paraunitary systems admit a complete factorization, we can parameterize any separable orthogonal convolution as a composition of spatial filters. As a result, our framework endows high expressive power to various convolutional layers while maintaining their exact orthogonality. Furthermore, our layers are memory and computationally efficient for deep networks compared to previous designs. Our versatile framework, for the first time, enables the study of architectural designs for deep orthogonal networks, such as choices of skip connection, initialization, stride, and dilation. Consequently, we scale up orthogonal networks to deep architectures, including ResNet and ShuffleNet, substantially outperforming their shallower counterparts. Finally, we show how to construct residual flows, a flow-based generative model that requires strict Lipschitzness, using our orthogonal networks.Our code will be publicly available at

# #227
Stability Based Generalization Bounds for Exponential Family Langevin Dynamics

Arindam Banerjee · Tiancong Chen · Xinyan Li · Yingxue Zhou

Recent years have seen advances in generalization bounds for noisy stochastic algorithms, especially stochastic gradient Langevin dynamics (SGLD) based on stability (Mou et al., 2018; Li et al., 2020) and information theoretic approaches (Xu & Raginsky, 2017; Negrea et al., 2019; Steinke & Zakynthinou, 2020). In this paper, we unify and substantially generalize stability based generalization bounds and make three technical contributions. First, we bound the generalization error in terms of expected (not uniform) stability which arguably leads to quantitatively sharper bounds. Second, as our main contribution, we introduce Exponential Family Langevin Dynamics (EFLD), a substantial generalization of SGLD, which includes noisy versions of Sign-SGD and quantized SGD as special cases. We establish data dependent expected stability based generalization bounds for any EFLD algorithm with a O(1/n) sample dependence and dependence on gradient discrepancy rather than the norm of gradients, yielding significantly sharper bounds. Third, we establish optimization guarantees for special cases of EFLD. Further, empirical results on benchmarks illustrate that our bounds are non-vacuous, quantitatively sharper than existing bounds, and behave correctly under noisy labels.

# #225
Local Augmentation for Graph Neural Networks

Songtao Liu · Rex (Zhitao) Ying · Hanze Dong · Lanqing Li · Tingyang Xu · Yu Rong · Peilin Zhao · Junzhou Huang · Dinghao Wu

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have achieved remarkable performance on graph-based tasks. The key idea for GNNs is to obtain informative representation through aggregating information from local neighborhoods. However, it remains an open question whether the neighborhood information is adequately aggregated for learning representations of nodes with few neighbors. To address this, we propose a simple and efficient data augmentation strategy, local augmentation, to learn the distribution of the node representations of the neighbors conditioned on the central node's representation and enhance GNN's expressive power with generated features. Local augmentation is a general framework that can be applied to any GNN model in a plug-and-play manner. It samples feature vectors associated with each node from the learned conditional distribution as additional input for the backbone model at each training iteration. Extensive experiments and analyses show that local augmentation consistently yields performance improvement when applied to various GNN architectures across a diverse set of benchmarks. For example, experiments show that plugging in local augmentation to GCN and GAT improves by an average of 3.4\% and 1.6\% in terms of test accuracy on Cora, Citeseer, and Pubmed. Besides, our experimental results on large graphs (OGB) show that our model consistently improves performance over backbones. Code is available at

# #223
On Non-local Convergence Analysis of Deep Linear Networks

Kun Chen · Dachao Lin · Zhihua Zhang

In this paper, we study the non-local convergence properties of deep linear networks. Specifically, under the quadratic loss, we consider optimizing deep linear networks in which there is at least a layer with only one neuron. We describe the convergent point of trajectories with an arbitrary balanced starting point under gradient flow, including the paths which converge to one of the saddle points. We also show specific convergence rates of trajectories that converge to the global minimizers by stages. We conclude that the rates vary from polynomial to linear. As far as we know, our results are the first to give a non-local analysis of deep linear neural networks with arbitrary balanced initialization, rather than the lazy training regime which has dominated the literature on neural networks or the restricted benign initialization.

# #221
Adaptive Inertia: Disentangling the Effects of Adaptive Learning Rate and Momentum

Zeke Xie · Xinrui Wang · Huishuai Zhang · Issei Sato · Masashi Sugiyama

Adaptive Moment Estimation (Adam), which combines Adaptive Learning Rate and Momentum, would be the most popular stochastic optimizer for accelerating the training of deep neural networks. However, it is empirically known that Adam often generalizes worse than Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD). The purpose of this paper is to unveil the mystery of this behavior in the diffusion theoretical framework. Specifically, we disentangle the effects of Adaptive Learning Rate and Momentum of the Adam dynamics on saddle-point escaping and flat minima selection. We prove that Adaptive Learning Rate can escape saddle points efficiently, but cannot select flat minima as SGD does. In contrast, Momentum provides a drift effect to help the training process pass through saddle points, and almost does not affect flat minima selection. This partly explains why SGD (with Momentum) generalizes better, while Adam generalizes worse but converges faster. Furthermore, motivated by the analysis, we design a novel adaptive optimization framework named Adaptive Inertia, which uses parameter-wise adaptive inertia to accelerate the training and provably favors flat minima as well as SGD. Our extensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed adaptive inertia method can generalize significantly better than SGD and conventional adaptive gradient methods.

# #219
Diversified Adversarial Attacks based on Conjugate Gradient Method

Keiichiro Yamamura · Haruki Sato · Nariaki Tateiwa · Nozomi Hata · Toru Mitsutake · Issa Oe · Hiroki Ishikura · Katsuki Fujisawa

Deep learning models are vulnerable to adversarial examples, and adversarial attacks used to generate such examples have attracted considerable research interest.Although existing methods based on the steepest descent have achieved high attack success rates, ill-conditioned problems occasionally reduce their performance.To address this limitation, we utilize the conjugate gradient (CG) method, which is effective for this type of problem, and propose a novel attack algorithm inspired by the CG method, named the Auto Conjugate Gradient (ACG) attack.The results of large-scale evaluation experiments conducted on the latest robust models show that, for most models, ACG was able to find more adversarial examples with fewer iterations than the existing SOTA algorithm Auto-PGD (APGD).We investigated the difference in search performance between ACG and APGD in terms of diversification and intensification, and define a measure called Diversity Index (DI) to quantify the degree of diversity.From the analysis of the diversity using this index, we show that the more diverse search of the proposed method remarkably improves its attack success rate.

# #217
On the Optimization Landscape of Neural Collapse under MSE Loss: Global Optimality with Unconstrained Features

Jinxin Zhou · Xiao Li · Tianyu Ding · Chong You · Qing Qu · Zhihui Zhu

When training deep neural networks for classification tasks, an intriguing empirical phenomenon has been widely observed in the last-layer classifiers and features, where (i) the class means and the last-layer classifiers all collapse to the vertices of a Simplex Equiangular Tight Frame (ETF) up to scaling, and (ii) cross-example within-class variability of last-layer activations collapses to zero. This phenomenon is called Neural Collapse (NC), which seems to take place regardless of the choice of loss functions. In this work, we justify NC under the mean squared error (MSE) loss, where recent empirical evidence shows that it performs comparably or even better than the de-facto cross-entropy loss. Under a simplified unconstrained feature model, we provide the first global landscape analysis for vanilla nonconvex MSE loss and show that the (only!) global minimizers are neural collapse solutions, while all other critical points are strict saddles whose Hessian exhibit negative curvature directions. Furthermore, we justify the usage of rescaled MSE loss by probing the optimization landscape around the NC solutions, showing that the landscape can be improved by tuning the rescaling hyperparameters. Finally, our theoretical findings are experimentally verified on practical network architectures.

# #215
On the Equivalence Between Temporal and Static Equivariant Graph Representations

Jianfei Gao · Bruno Ribeiro

This work formalizes the associational task of predicting node attribute evolution in temporal graphs from the perspective of learning equivariant representations. We show that node representations in temporal graphs can be cast into two distinct frameworks: (a) The most popular approach, which we denote as time-and-graph, where equivariant graph (e.g., GNN) and sequence (e.g., RNN) representations are intertwined to represent the temporal evolution of node attributes in the graph; and (b) an approach that we denote as time-then-graph, where the sequences describing the node and edge dynamics are represented first, then fed as node and edge attributes into a static equivariant graph representation that comes after. Interestingly, we show that time-then-graph representations have an expressivity advantage over time-and-graph representations when both use component GNNs that are not most-expressive (e.g., 1-Weisfeiler-Lehman GNNs). Moreover, while our goal is not necessarily to obtain state-of-the-art results, our experiments show that time-then-graph methods are capable of achieving better performance and efficiency than state-of-the-art time-and-graph methods in some real-world tasks, thereby showcasing that the time-then-graph framework is a worthy addition to the graph ML toolbox.

# #213
Robust Training under Label Noise by Over-parameterization

Sheng Liu · Zhihui Zhu · Qing Qu · Chong You

Recently, over-parameterized deep networks, with increasingly more network parameters than training samples, have dominated the performances of modern machine learning. However, when the training data is corrupted, it has been well-known that over-parameterized networks tend to overfit and do not generalize. In this work, we propose a principled approach for robust training of over-parameterized deep networks in classification tasks where a proportion of training labels are corrupted. The main idea is yet very simple: label noise is sparse and incoherent with the network learned from clean data, so we model the noise and learn to separate it from the data. Specifically, we model the label noise via another sparse over-parameterization term, and exploit implicit algorithmic regularizations to recover and separate the underlying corruptions. Remarkably, when trained using such a simple method in practice, we demonstrate state-of-the-art test accuracy against label noise on a variety of real datasets. Furthermore, our experimental results are corroborated by theory on simplified linear models, showing that exact separation between sparse noise and low-rank data can be achieved under incoherent conditions. The work opens many interesting directions for improving over-parameterized models by using sparse over-parameterization and implicit regularization. Code is available at

# #211
Implicit Bias of the Step Size in Linear Diagonal Neural Networks

Mor Shpigel Nacson · Kavya Ravichandran · Nati Srebro · Daniel Soudry

Focusing on diagonal linear networks as a model for understanding the implicit bias in underdetermined models, we show how the gradient descent step size can have a large qualitative effect on the implicit bias, and thus on generalization ability. In particular, we show how using large step size for non-centered data can change the implicit bias from a "kernel" type behavior to a "rich" (sparsity-inducing) regime --- even when gradient flow, studied in previous works, would not escape the "kernel" regime. We do so by using dynamic stability, proving that convergence to dynamically stable global minima entails a bound on some weighted $\ell_1$-norm of the linear predictor, i.e. a "rich" regime. We prove this leads to good generalization in a sparse regression setting.

# #209
Extended Unconstrained Features Model for Exploring Deep Neural Collapse

Tom Tirer · Joan Bruna

The modern strategy for training deep neural networks for classification tasks includes optimizing the network's weights even after the training error vanishes to further push the training loss toward zero. Recently, a phenomenon termed neural collapse" (NC) has been empirically observed in this training procedure. Specifically, it has been shown that the learned features (the output of the penultimate layer) of within-class samples converge to their mean, and the means of different classes exhibit a certain tight frame structure, which is also aligned with the last layer's weights. Recent papers have shown that minimizers with this structure emerge when optimizing a simplifiedunconstrained features model" (UFM) with a regularized cross-entropy loss. In this paper, we further analyze and extend the UFM. First, we study the UFM for the regularized MSE loss, and show that the minimizers' features can have a more delicate structure than in the cross-entropy case. This affects also the structure of the weights. Then, we extend the UFM by adding another layer of weights as well as ReLU nonlinearity to the model and generalize our previous results. Finally, we empirically demonstrate the usefulness of our nonlinear extended UFM in modeling the NC phenomenon that occurs with practical networks.

# #207
Score-Guided Intermediate Level Optimization: Fast Langevin Mixing for Inverse Problems

Giannis Daras · Yuval Dagan · Alexandros Dimakis · Constantinos Daskalakis

We prove fast mixing and characterize the stationary distribution of the Langevin Algorithm for inverting random weighted DNN generators. This result extends the work of Hand and Voroninski from efficient inversion to efficient posterior sampling. In practice, to allow for increased expressivity, we propose to do posterior sampling in the latent space of a pre-trained generative model. To achieve that, we train a score-based model in the latent space of a StyleGAN-2 and we use it to solve inverse problems.Our framework, Score-Guided Intermediate Layer Optimization (SGILO), extends prior work by replacing the sparsity regularization with a generative prior in the intermediate layer. Experimentally, we obtain significant improvements over the previous state-of-the-art, especially in the low measurement regime.

# #205
On Numerical Integration in Neural Ordinary Differential Equations

Aiqing Zhu · Pengzhan Jin · Beibei Zhu · Yifa Tang

The combination of ordinary differential equations and neural networks, i.e., neural ordinary differential equations (Neural ODE), has been widely studied from various angles. However, deciphering the numerical integration in Neural ODE is still an open challenge, as many researches demonstrated that numerical integration significantly affects the performance of the model. In this paper, we propose the inverse modified differential equations (IMDE) to clarify the influence of numerical integration on training Neural ODE models. IMDE is determined by the learning task and the employed ODE solver. It is shown that training a Neural ODE model actually returns a close approximation of the IMDE, rather than the true ODE. With the help of IMDE, we deduce that (i) the discrepancy between the learned model and the true ODE is bounded by the sum of discretization error and learning loss; (ii) Neural ODE using non-symplectic numerical integration fail to learn conservation laws theoretically. Several experiments are performed to numerically verify our theoretical analysis.

# #203
Reverse Engineering the Neural Tangent Kernel

James B Simon · Sajant Anand · Michael R DeWeese

The development of methods to guide the design of neural networks is an important open challenge for deep learning theory. As a paradigm for principled neural architecture design, we propose the translation of high-performing kernels, which are better-understood and amenable to first-principles design, into equivalent network architectures, which have superior efficiency, flexibility, and feature learning. To this end, we constructively prove that, with just an appropriate choice of activation function, any positive-semidefinite dot-product kernel can be realized as either the NNGP or neural tangent kernel of a fully-connected neural network with only one hidden layer. We verify our construction numerically and demonstrate its utility as a design tool for finite fully-connected networks in several experiments.

# #201
Principled Knowledge Extrapolation with GANs

Ruili Feng · Jie Xiao · Kecheng Zheng · Deli Zhao · Jingren Zhou · Qibin Sun · Zheng-Jun Zha

Human can extrapolate well, generalize daily knowledge into unseen scenarios, raise and answer counterfactual questions. To imitate this ability via generative models, previous works have extensively studied explicitly encoding Structural Causal Models (SCMs) into architectures of generator networks. This methodology, however, limits the flexibility of the generator as they must be carefully crafted to follow the causal graph, and demands a ground truth SCM with strong ignorability assumption as prior, which is a nontrivial assumption in many real scenarios. Thus, many current causal GAN methods fail to generate high fidelity counterfactual results as they cannot easily leverage state-of-the-art generative models. In this paper, we propose to study counterfactual synthesis from a new perspective of knowledge extrapolation, where a given knowledge dimension of the data distribution is extrapolated, but the remaining knowledge is kept indistinguishable from the original distribution. We show that an adversarial game with a closed-form discriminator can be used to address the knowledge extrapolation problem, and a novel principal knowledge descent method can efficiently estimate the extrapolated distribution through the adversarial game. Our method enjoys both elegant theoretical guarantees and superior performance in many scenarios.

# #300
Informed Learning by Wide Neural Networks: Convergence, Generalization and Sampling Complexity

Jianyi Yang · Shaolei Ren

By integrating domain knowledge with labeled samples, informed machine learning has been emerging to improve the learning performance for a wide range of applications. Nonetheless, rigorous understanding of the role of injected domainknowledge has been under-explored. In this paper, we consider an informed deep neural network (DNN) with over-parameterization and domain knowledge integrated into its training objective function, and study how and why domain knowledge benefits the performance. Concretely, we quantitatively demonstrate the two benefits of domain knowledge in informed learning — regularizing the label-based supervision and supplementing the labeled samples — and reveal the trade-off between label and knowledge imperfectness in the bound of the population risk. Based on the theoretical analysis, we propose a generalized informed training objective to better exploit the benefits of knowledge and balance the label and knowledge imperfectness, which is validated by the population risk bound. Our analysis on sampling complexity sheds lights on how to choose the hyper-parameters for informed learning, and further justifies the advantages of knowledge informed learning.

# #302
Data Augmentation as Feature Manipulation

Ruoqi Shen · Sebastien Bubeck · Suriya Gunasekar

Data augmentation is a cornerstone of the machine learning pipeline, yet its theoretical underpinnings remain unclear. Is it merely a way to artificially augment the data set size? Or is it about encouraging the model to satisfy certain invariances? In this work we consider another angle, and we study the effect of data augmentation on the dynamic of the learning process. We find that data augmentation can alter the relative importance of various features, effectively making certain informative but hard to learn features more likely to be captured in the learning process. Importantly, we show that this effect is more pronounced for non-linear models, such as neural networks. Our main contribution is a detailed analysis of data augmentation on the learning dynamic for a two layer convolutional neural network in the recently proposed multi-view model by Z. Allen-Zhu and Y. Li. We complement this analysis with further experimental evidence that data augmentation can be viewed as a form of feature manipulation.

# #304
Convolutional and Residual Networks Provably Contain Lottery Tickets

Rebekka Burkholz

The Lottery Ticket Hypothesis continues to have a profound practical impact on the quest for small scale deep neural networks that solve modern deep learning tasks at competitive performance. These lottery tickets are identified by pruning large randomly initialized neural networks with architectures that are as diverse as their applications. Yet, theoretical insights that attest their existence have been mostly focused on deed fully-connected feed forward networks with ReLU activation functions. We prove that also modern architectures consisting of convolutional and residual layers that can be equipped with almost arbitrary activation functions can contain lottery tickets with high probability.

# #306
Feature Learning and Signal Propagation in Deep Neural Networks

Yizhang Lou · Chris Mingard · Soufiane Hayou

Recent work by Baratin et al. (2021) sheds light on an intriguing pattern that occurs during the training of deep neural networks: some layers align much more with data compared to other layers (where the alignment is defined as the normalize euclidean product of the tangent features matrix and the data labels matrix). The curve of the alignment as a function of layer index (generally) exhibits a ascent-descent pattern where the maximum is reached for some hidden layer. In this work, we provide the first explanation for this phenomenon. We introduce the Equilibrium Hypothesis which connects this alignment pattern to signal propagation in deep neural networks. Our experiments demonstrate an excellent match with the theoretical predictions.

# #308
Robust Training of Neural Networks Using Scale Invariant Architectures

Zhiyuan Li · Srinadh Bhojanapalli · Manzil Zaheer · Sashank Jakkam Reddi · Sanjiv Kumar

In contrast to SGD, adaptive gradient methods like Adam allow robust training of modern deep networks, especially large language models. However, the use of adaptivity not only comes at the cost of extra memory but also raises the fundamental question: can non-adaptive methods like SGD enjoy similar benefits?In this paper, we provide an affirmative answer to this question by proposing to achieve both robust and memory-efficient training via the following general recipe: (1) modify the architecture and make it scale invariant, (2) train with SGD and weight decay, and optionally (3) clip the global gradient norm proportional to weight norm multiplied by $\sqrt{\frac{2\lambda}{\eta}}$, where $\eta$ is learning rate and $\lambda$ is weight decay. We show that this general approach is robust to rescaling of parameter and loss by proving that its convergence only depends logarithmically on the scale of initialization and loss, whereas the standard SGD might not even converge for many initializations. Following our recipe, we design a scale invariant version of BERT, called SIBERT, which when trained simply by vanilla SGD achieves performance comparable to BERT trained by adaptive methods like Adam on downstream tasks.

# #310
Understanding Contrastive Learning Requires Incorporating Inductive Biases

Nikunj Umesh Saunshi · Jordan Ash · Surbhi Goel · Dipendra Kumar Misra · Cyril Zhang · Sanjeev Arora · Sham Kakade · Akshay Krishnamurthy

Contrastive learning is a popular form of self-supervised learning that encourages augmentations (views) of the same input to have more similar representations compared to augmentations of different inputs. Recent attempts to theoretically explain the success of contrastive learning on downstream classification tasks prove guarantees depending on properties of {\em augmentations} and the value of {\em contrastive loss} of representations. We demonstrate that such analyses, that ignore {\em inductive biases} of the function class and training algorithm, cannot adequately explain the success of contrastive learning, even {\em provably} leading to vacuous guarantees in some settings. Extensive experiments on image and text domains highlight the ubiquity of this problem -- different function classes and algorithms behave very differently on downstream tasks, despite having the same augmentations and contrastive losses. Theoretical analysis is presented for the class of linear representations, where incorporating inductive biases of the function class allows contrastive learning to work with less stringent conditions compared to prior analyses.

# #312
Implicit Regularization with Polynomial Growth in Deep Tensor Factorization

Kais HARIZ · Hachem Kadri · Stephane Ayache · Maher Moakher · Thierry Artieres

We study the implicit regularization effects of deep learning in tensor factorization. While implicit regularization in deep matrix and 'shallow' tensor factorization via linear and certain type of non-linear neural networks promotes low-rank solutions with at most quadratic growth, we show that its effect in deep tensor factorization grows polynomially with the depth of the network. This provides a remarkably faithful description of the observed experimental behaviour. Using numerical experiments, we demonstrate the benefits of this implicit regularization in yielding a more accurate estimation and better convergence properties.

# #314
Deep Network Approximation in Terms of Intrinsic Parameters

Zuowei Shen · Haizhao Yang · Shijun Zhang

One of the arguments to explain the success of deep learning is the powerful approximation capacity of deep neural networks. Such capacity is generally accompanied by the explosive growth of the number of parameters, which, in turn, leads to high computational costs. It is of great interest to ask whether we can achieve successful deep learning with a small number of learnable parameters adapting to the target function. From an approximation perspective, this paper shows that the number of parameters that need to be learned can be significantly smaller than people typically expect. First, we theoretically design ReLU networks with a few learnable parameters to achieve an attractive approximation. We prove by construction that, for any Lipschitz continuous function $f$ on $[0,1]^d$ with a Lipschitz constant $\lambda>0$, a ReLU network with $n+2$ intrinsic parameters (those depending on $f$) can approximate $f$ with an exponentially small error $5 \lambda \sqrt{d} \, 2^{-n}$. Such a result is generalized to generic continuous functions. Furthermore, we show that the idea of learning a small number of parameters to achieve a good approximation can be numerically observed. We conduct several experiments to verify that training a small part of parameters can also achieve good results for classification problems if other parameters are pre-specified or pre-trained from a related problem.

# #316
Coin Flipping Neural Networks

Yuval Sieradzki · Nitzan Hodos · Gal Yehuda · Assaf Schuster

We show that neural networks with access to randomness can outperform deterministic networks by using amplification. We call such networks Coin-Flipping Neural Networks, or CFNNs.We show that a CFNN can approximate the indicator of a d-dimensional ball to arbitrary accuracy with only 2 layers and O(1) neurons, where a 2-layer deterministic network was shown to require Omega(e^d) neurons, an exponential improvement.We prove a highly non-trivial result, that for almost any classification problem, there exists a trivially simple network that solves it given a sufficiently powerful generator for the network's weights.Combining these results we conjecture that for most classification problems, there is a CFNN which solves them with higher accuracy or fewer neurons than any deterministic network.Finally, we verify our proofs experimentally using novel CFNN architectures on CIFAR10 and CIFAR100, reaching an improvement of 9.25% from the baseline.

# #318
Benefits of Overparameterized Convolutional Residual Networks: Function Approximation under Smoothness Constraint

Hao Liu · Minshuo Chen · Siawpeng Er · Wenjing Liao · Tong Zhang · Tuo Zhao

Overparameterized neural networks enjoy great representation power on complex data, and more importantly yield sufficiently smooth output, which is crucial to their generalization and robustness. Most existing function approximation theories suggest that with sufficiently many parameters, neural networks can well approximate certain classes of functions in terms of the function value. The neural network themselves, however, can be highly nonsmooth. To bridge this gap, we take convolutional residual networks (ConvResNets) as an example, and prove that large ConvResNets can not only approximate a target function in terms of function value, but also exhibit sufficient first-order smoothness. Moreover, we extend our theory to approximating functions supported on a low-dimensional manifold. Our theory partially justifies the benefits of using deep and wide networks in practice. Numerical experiments on adversarial robust image classification are provided to support our theory.

# #320
More Than a Toy: Random Matrix Models Predict How Real-World Neural Representations Generalize

Alexander Wei · Wei Hu · Jacob Steinhardt

Of theories for why large-scale machine learning models generalize despite being vastly overparameterized, which of their assumptions are needed to capture the qualitative phenomena of generalization in the real world? On one hand, we find that most theoretical analyses fall short of capturing these qualitative phenomena even for kernel regression, when applied to kernels derived from large-scale neural networks (e.g., ResNet-50) and real data (e.g., CIFAR-100). On the other hand, we find that the classical GCV estimator (Craven and Wahba, 1978) accurately predicts generalization risk even in such overparameterized settings. To bolster this empirical finding, we prove that the GCV estimator converges to the generalization risk whenever a local random matrix law holds. Finally, we apply this random matrix theory lens to explain why pretrained representations generalize better as well as what factors govern scaling laws for kernel regression. Our findings suggest that random matrix theory, rather than just being a toy model, may be central to understanding the properties of neural representations in practice.

# #322
SE(3) Equivariant Graph Neural Networks with Complete Local Frames

weitao du · He Zhang · Yuanqi Du · Qi Meng · Wei Chen · Nanning Zheng · Bin Shao · Tie-Yan Liu

Group equivariance (e.g. SE(3) equivariance) is a critical physical symmetry in science, from classical and quantum physics to computational biology. It enables robust and accurate prediction under arbitrary reference transformations. In light of this, great efforts have been put on encoding this symmetry into deep neural networks, which has been shown to improve the generalization performance and data efficiency for downstream tasks. Constructing an equivariant neural network generally brings high computational costs to ensure expressiveness. Therefore, how to better trade-off the expressiveness and computational efficiency plays a core role in the design of the equivariant deep learning models. In this paper, we propose a framework to construct SE(3) equivariant graph neural networks that can approximate the geometric quantities efficiently.Inspired by differential geometry and physics, we introduce equivariant local complete frames to graph neural networks, such that tensor information at given orders can be projected onto the frames. The local frame is constructed to form an orthonormal basis that avoids direction degeneration and ensure completeness. Since the frames are built only by cross product operations, our method is computationally efficient. We evaluate our method on two tasks: Newton mechanics modeling and equilibrium molecule conformation generation. Extensive experimental results demonstrate that our model achieves the best or competitive performance in two types of datasets.

# #324
From data to functa: Your data point is a function and you can treat it like one

Emilien Dupont · Hyunjik Kim · S. M. Ali Eslami · Danilo J. Rezende · Dan Rosenbaum

It is common practice in deep learning to represent a measurement of the world on a discrete grid, e.g. a 2D grid of pixels. However, the underlying signal represented by these measurements is often continuous, e.g. the scene depicted in an image. A powerful continuous alternative is then to represent these measurements using an \textit{implicit neural representation}, a neural function trained to output the appropriate measurement value for any input spatial location. In this paper, we take this idea to its next level: what would it take to perform deep learning on these functions instead, treating them as data? In this context we refer to the data as \textit{functa}, and propose a framework for deep learning on functa. This view presents a number of challenges around efficient conversion from data to functa, compact representation of functa, and effectively solving downstream tasks on functa. We outline a recipe to overcome these challenges and apply it to a wide range of data modalities including images, 3D shapes, neural radiance fields (NeRF) and data on manifolds. We demonstrate that this approach has various compelling properties across data modalities, in particular on the canonical tasks of generative modeling, data imputation, novel view synthesis and classification.

# #326
DisPFL: Towards Communication-Efficient Personalized Federated Learning via Decentralized Sparse Training

Rong Dai · Li Shen · Fengxiang He · Xinmei Tian · Dacheng Tao

Personalized federated learning is proposed to handle the data heterogeneity problem amongst clients by learning dedicated tailored local models for each user. However, existing works are often built in a centralized way, leading to high communication pressure and high vulnerability when a failure or an attack on the central server occurs. In this work, we propose a novel personalized federated learning framework in a decentralized (peer-to-peer) communication protocol named DisPFL, which employs personalized sparse masks to customize sparse local models on the edge. To further save the communication and computation cost, we propose a decentralized sparse training technique, which means that each local model in DisPFL only maintains a fixed number of active parameters throughout the whole local training and peer-to-peer communication process. Comprehensive experiments demonstrate that DisPFL significantly saves the communication bottleneck for the busiest node among all clients and, at the same time, achieves higher model accuracy with less computation cost and communication rounds. Furthermore, we demonstrate that our method can easily adapt to heterogeneous local clients with varying computation complexities and achieves better personalized performances.

# #328
Differentiable Top-k Classification Learning

Felix Petersen · Hilde Kuehne · Christian Borgelt · Oliver Deussen

The top-k classification accuracy is one of the core metrics in machine learning. Here, k is conventionally a positive integer, such as 1 or 5, leading to top-1 or top-5 training objectives. In this work, we relax this assumption and optimize the model for multiple k simultaneously instead of using a single k. Leveraging recent advances in differentiable sorting and ranking, we propose a family of differentiable top-k cross-entropy classification losses. This allows training while not only considering the top-1 prediction, but also, e.g., the top-2 and top-5 predictions. We evaluate the proposed losses for fine-tuning on state-of-the-art architectures, as well as for training from scratch. We find that relaxing k not only produces better top-5 accuracies, but also leads to top-1 accuracy improvements. When fine-tuning publicly available ImageNet models, we achieve a new state-of-the-art for these models.

# #330
Finding the Task-Optimal Low-Bit Sub-Distribution in Deep Neural Networks

Runpei Dong · Zhanhong Tan · Mengdi Wu · Linfeng Zhang · Kaisheng Ma

Quantized neural networks typically require smaller memory footprints and lower computation complexity, which is crucial for efficient deployment. However, quantization inevitably leads to a distribution divergence from the original network, which generally degrades the performance. To tackle this issue, massive efforts have been made, but most existing approaches lack statistical considerations and depend on several manual configurations. In this paper, we present an adaptive-mapping quantization method to learn an optimal latent sub-distribution that is inherent within models and smoothly approximated with a concrete Gaussian Mixture (GM). In particular, the network weights are projected in compliance with the GM-approximated sub-distribution. This sub-distribution evolves along with the weight update in a co-tuning schema guided by the direct task-objective optimization. Sufficient experiments on image classification and object detection over various modern architectures demonstrate the effectiveness, generalization property, and transferability of the proposed method. Besides, an efficient deployment flow for the mobile CPU is developed, achieving up to 7.46$\times$ inference acceleration on an octa-core ARM CPU. Our codes have been publicly released at

# #332
Characterizing and Overcoming the Greedy Nature of Learning in Multi-modal Deep Neural Networks

Nan Wu · Stanislaw Jastrzebski · Kyunghyun Cho · Krzysztof J Geras

We hypothesize that due to the greedy nature of learning in multi-modal deep neural networks, these models tend to rely on just one modality while under-fitting the other modalities. Such behavior is counter-intuitive and hurts the models' generalization, as we observe empirically. To estimate the model's dependence on each modality, we compute the gain on the accuracy when the model has access to it in addition to another modality. We refer to this gain as the conditional utilization rate. In the experiments, we consistently observe an imbalance in conditional utilization rates between modalities, across multiple tasks and architectures. Since conditional utilization rate cannot be computed efficiently during training, we introduce a proxy for it based on the pace at which the model learns from each modality, which we refer to as the conditional learning speed. We propose an algorithm to balance the conditional learning speeds between modalities during training and demonstrate that it indeed addresses the issue of greedy learning. The proposed algorithm improves the model's generalization on three datasets: Colored MNIST, ModelNet40, and NVIDIA Dynamic Hand Gesture.

# #334
Training Your Sparse Neural Network Better with Any Mask

Ajay Jaiswal · Haoyu Ma · Tianlong Chen · Ying Ding · Zhangyang “Atlas” Wang

Pruning large neural networks to create high-quality, independently trainable sparse masks, which can maintain similar performance to their dense counterparts, is very desirable due to the reduced space and time complexity. As research effort is focused on increasingly sophisticated pruning methods that leads to sparse subnetworks trainable from the scratch, we argue for an orthogonal, under-explored theme: improving training techniques for pruned sub-networks, i.e. sparse training. Apart from the popular belief that only the quality of sparse masks matters for sparse training, in this paper we demonstrate an alternative opportunity: one can carefully customize the sparse training techniques to deviate from the default dense network training protocols, consisting of introducing ``ghost" neurons and skip connections at the early stage of training, and strategically modifying the initialization as well as labels. Our new sparse training recipe is generally applicable to improving training from scratch with various sparse masks. By adopting our newly curated techniques, we demonstrate significant performance gains across various popular datasets (CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, TinyImageNet), architectures (ResNet-18/32/104, Vgg16, MobileNet), and sparse mask options (lottery ticket, SNIP/GRASP, SynFlow, or even randomly pruning), compared to the default training protocols, especially at high sparsity levels. Codes will be publicly available.

# #336
Federated Learning with Positive and Unlabeled Data

Xinyang Lin · Hanting Chen · Yixing Xu · Chao Xu · Xiaolin Gui · Yiping Deng · Yunhe Wang

We study the problem of learning from positive and unlabeled (PU) data in the federated setting, where each client only labels a little part of their dataset due to the limitation of resources and time. Different from the settings in traditional PU learning where the negative class consists of a single class, the negative samples which cannot be identified by a client in the federated setting may come from multiple classes which are unknown to the client. Therefore, existing PU learning methods can be hardly applied in this situation. To address this problem, we propose a novel framework, namely Federated learning with Positive and Unlabeled data (FedPU), to minimize the expected risk of multiple negative classes by leveraging the labeled data in other clients. We theoretically analyze the generalization bound of the proposed FedPU. Empirical experiments show that the FedPU can achieve much better performance than conventional supervised and semi-supervised federated learning methods.

# #338
Generating 3D Molecules for Target Protein Binding

Meng Liu · Youzhi Luo · Kanji Uchino · Koji Maruhashi · Shuiwang Ji

A fundamental problem in drug discovery is to design molecules that bind to specific proteins. To tackle this problem using machine learning methods, here we propose a novel and effective framework, known as GraphBP, to generate 3D molecules that bind to given proteins by placing atoms of specific types and locations to the given binding site one by one. In particular, at each step, we first employ a 3D graph neural network to obtain geometry-aware and chemically informative representations from the intermediate contextual information. Such context includes the given binding site and atoms placed in the previous steps. Second, to preserve the desirable equivariance property, we select a local reference atom according to the designed auxiliary classifiers and then construct a local spherical coordinate system. Finally, to place a new atom, we generate its atom type and relative location w.r.t. the constructed local coordinate system via a flow model. We also consider generating the variables of interest sequentially to capture the underlying dependencies among them. Experiments demonstrate that our GraphBP is effective to generate 3D molecules with binding ability to target protein binding sites. Our implementation is available at

# #337
Sparse Double Descent: Where Network Pruning Aggravates Overfitting

Zheng He · Zeke Xie · Quanzhi Zhu · Zengchang Qin

People usually believe that network pruning not only reduces the computational cost of deep networks, but also prevents overfitting by decreasing model capacity. However, our work surprisingly discovers that network pruning sometimes even aggravates overfitting. We report an unexpected sparse double descent phenomenon that, as we increase model sparsity via network pruning, test performance first gets worse (due to overfitting), then gets better (due to relieved overfitting), and gets worse at last (due to forgetting useful information). While recent studies focused on the deep double descent with respect to model overparameterization, they failed to recognize that sparsity may also cause double descent. In this paper, we have three main contributions. First, we report the novel sparse double descent phenomenon through extensive experiments. Second, for this phenomenon, we propose a novel learning distance interpretation that the curve of l2 learning distance of sparse models (from initialized parameters to final parameters) may correlate with the sparse double descent curve well and reflect generalization better than minima flatness. Third, in the context of sparse double descent, a winning ticket in the lottery ticket hypothesis surprisingly may not always win.

# #335
Collaboration of Experts: Achieving 80% Top-1 Accuracy on ImageNet with 100M FLOPs

Yikang Zhang · zhuo chen · Zhao Zhong

In this paper, we propose a Collaboration of Experts (CoE) framework to assemble the expertise of multiple networks towards a common goal. Each expert is an individual network with expertise on a unique portion of the dataset, contributing to the collective capacity. Given a sample, delegator selects an expert and simultaneously outputs a rough prediction to trigger potential early termination. For each model in CoE, we propose a novel training algorithm with two major components: weight generation module (WGM) and label generation module (LGM). It fulfills the co-adaptation of experts and delegator. WGM partitions the training data into portions based on delegator via solving a balanced transportation problem, then impels each expert to focus on one portion by reweighting the losses. LGM generates the label to constitute the loss of delegator for expert selection. CoE achieves the state-of-the-art performance on ImageNet, 80.7% top-1 accuracy with 194M FLOPs. Combined with PWLU and CondConv, CoE further boosts the accuracy to 80.0% with only 100M FLOPs for the first time. Furthermore, experiment results on the translation task also demonstrate the strong generalizability of CoE. CoE is hardware-friendly, yielding a 3~6x acceleration compared with existing conditional computation approaches.

# #333
Revisiting Consistency Regularization for Deep Partial Label Learning

Dong-Dong Wu · Deng-Bao Wang · Min-Ling Zhang

Partial label learning (PLL), which refers to the classification task where each training instance is ambiguously annotated with a set of candidate labels, has been recently studied in deep learning paradigm. Despite advances in recent deep PLL literature, existing methods (e.g., methods based on self-training or contrastive learning) are confronted with either ineffectiveness or inefficiency. In this paper, we revisit a simple idea namely consistency regularization, which has been shown effective in traditional PLL literature, to guide the training of deep models. Towards this goal, a new regularized training framework, which performs supervised learning on non-candidate labels and employs consistency regularization on candidate labels, is proposed for PLL. We instantiate the regularization term by matching the outputs of multiple augmentations of an instance to a conformal label distribution, which can be adaptively inferred by the closed-form solution. Experiments on benchmark datasets demonstrate the superiority of the proposed method compared with other state-of-the-art methods.

# #331
Stochastic smoothing of the top-K calibrated hinge loss for deep imbalanced classification

Camille Garcin · Maximilien Servajean · Alexis Joly · Joseph Salmon

In modern classification tasks, the number of labels is getting larger and larger, as is the size of the datasets encountered in practice. As the number of classes increases, class ambiguity and class imbalance become more and more problematic to achieve high top-1 accuracy. Meanwhile, Top-K metrics (metrics allowing K guesses) have become popular, especially for performance reporting. Yet, proposing top-K losses tailored for deep learning remains a challenge, both theoretically and practically.In this paper we introduce a stochastic top-K hinge loss inspired by recent developments on top-K calibrated losses.Our proposal is based on the smoothing of the top-K operator building on the flexible "perturbed optimizer" framework. We show that our loss function performs very well in the case of balanced datasets, while benefiting from a significantly lower computational time than the state-of-the-art top-K loss function. In addition, we propose a simple variant of our loss for the imbalanced case. Experiments on a heavy-tailed dataset show that our loss function significantly outperforms other baseline loss functions.

# #329
A Unified Weight Initialization Paradigm for Tensorial Convolutional Neural Networks

Yu Pan · Zeyong Su · Ao Liu · Jingquan Wang · Nannan Li · ZENGLIN Xu

Tensorial Convolutional Neural Networks (TCNNs) have attracted much research attention for their power in reducing model parameters or enhancing the generalization ability. However, exploration of TCNNs is hindered even from weight initialization methods. To be specific, general initialization methods, such as Xavier or Kaiming initialization, usually fail to generate appropriate weights for TCNNs. Meanwhile, although there are ad-hoc approaches for specific architectures (e.g., Tensor Ring Nets), they are not applicable to TCNNs with other tensor decomposition methods (e.g., CP or Tucker decomposition). To address this problem, we propose a universal weight initialization paradigm, which generalizes Xavier and Kaiming methods and can be widely applicable to arbitrary TCNNs. Specifically, we first present the Reproducing Transformation to convert the backward process in TCNNs to an equivalent convolution process. Then, based on the convolution operators in the forward and backward processes, we build a unified paradigm to control the variance of features and gradients in TCNNs. Thus, we can derive fan-in and fan-out initialization for various TCNNs. We demonstrate that our paradigm can stabilize the training of TCNNs, leading to faster convergence and better results.

# #327
PLATINUM: Semi-Supervised Model Agnostic Meta-Learning using Submodular Mutual Information

Changbin Li · Suraj Kothawade · Feng Chen · Rishabh Iyer

Few-shot classification (FSC) requires training models using a few (typically one to five) data points per class. Meta-learning has proven to be able to learn a parametrized model for FSC by training on various other classification tasks. In this work, we propose PLATINUM (semi-suPervised modeL Agnostic meTa learnIng usiNg sUbmodular Mutual information ), a novel semi-supervised model agnostic meta learning framework that uses the submodular mutual in- formation (SMI) functions to boost the perfor- mance of FSC. PLATINUM leverages unlabeled data in the inner and outer loop using SMI func- tions during meta-training and obtains richer meta- learned parameterizations. We study the per- formance of PLATINUM in two scenarios - 1) where the unlabeled data points belong to the same set of classes as the labeled set of a cer- tain episode, and 2) where there exist out-of- distribution classes that do not belong to the la- beled set. We evaluate our method on various settings on the miniImageNet, tieredImageNet and CIFAR-FS datasets. Our experiments show that PLATINUM outperforms MAML and semi- supervised approaches like pseduo-labeling for semi-supervised FSC, especially for small ratio of labeled to unlabeled samples.

# #325
Multicoated Supermasks Enhance Hidden Networks

Yasuyuki Okoshi · Ángel López García-Arias · Kazutoshi Hirose · Kota Ando · Kazushi Kawamura · Thiem Van Chu · Masato Motomura · Jaehoon Yu

Hidden Networks (Ramanujan et al., 2020) showed the possibility of finding accurate subnetworks within a randomly weighted neural network by training a connectivity mask, referred to as supermask. We show that the supermask stops improving even though gradients are not zero, thus underutilizing backpropagated information. To address this we propose a method that extends Hidden Networks by training an overlay of multiple hierarchical supermasks—a multicoated supermask. This method shows that using multiple supermasks for a single task achieves higher accuracy without additional training cost. Experiments on CIFAR-10 and ImageNet show that Multicoated Supermasks enhance the tradeoff between accuracy and model size. A ResNet-101 using a 7-coated supermask outperforms its Hidden Networks counterpart by 4%, matching the accuracy of a dense ResNet-50 while being an order of magnitude smaller.

# #323
Generating Distributional Adversarial Examples to Evade Statistical Detectors

Yigitcan Kaya · Muhammad Bilal Zafar · Sergul Aydore · Nathalie Rauschmayr · Krishnaram Kenthapadi

Deep neural networks (DNNs) are known to be highly vulnerable to adversarial examples (AEs) that include malicious perturbations. Assumptions about the statistical differences between natural and adversarial inputs are commonplace in many detection techniques. As a best practice, AE detectors are evaluated against 'adaptive' attackers who actively perturb their inputs to avoid detection. Due to the difficulties in designing adaptive attacks, however, recent work suggests that most detectors have incomplete evaluation. We aim to fill this gap by designing a generic adaptive attack against detectors: the 'statistical indistinguishability attack' (SIA). SIA optimizes a novel objective to craft adversarial examples (AEs) that follow the same distribution as the natural inputs with respect to DNN representations. Our objective targets all DNN layers simultaneously as we show that AEs being indistinguishable at one layer might fail to be so at other layers. SIA is formulated around evading distributional detectors that inspect a set of AEs as a whole and is also effective against four individual AE detectors, two dataset shift detectors, and an out-of-distribution sample detector, curated from published works. This suggests that SIA can be a reliable tool for evaluating the security of a range of detectors.

# #321
Improving Out-of-Distribution Robustness via Selective Augmentation

Huaxiu Yao · Yu Wang · Sai Li · Linjun Zhang · Weixin Liang · James Zou · Chelsea Finn

Machine learning algorithms typically assume that training and test examples are drawn from the same distribution. However, distribution shift is a common problem in real-world applications and can cause models to perform dramatically worse at test time. In this paper, we specifically consider the problems of subpopulation shifts (e.g., imbalanced data) and domain shifts. While prior works often seek to explicitly regularize internal representations or predictors of the model to be domain invariant, we instead aim to learn invariant predictors without restricting the model's internal representations or predictors. This leads to a simple mixup-based technique which learns invariant predictors via selective augmentation called LISA. LISA selectively interpolates samples either with the same labels but different domains or with the same domain but different labels. Empirically, we study the effectiveness of LISA on nine benchmarks ranging from subpopulation shifts to domain shifts, and we find that LISA consistently outperforms other state-of-the-art methods and leads to more invariant predictors. We further analyze a linear setting and theoretically show how LISA leads to a smaller worst-group error.

# #319
Modeling Adversarial Noise for Adversarial Training

Dawei Zhou · Nannan Wang · Bo Han · Tongliang Liu

Deep neural networks have been demonstrated to be vulnerable to adversarial noise, promoting the development of defense against adversarial attacks. Motivated by the fact that adversarial noise contains well-generalizing features and that the relationship between adversarial data and natural data can help infer natural data and make reliable predictions, in this paper, we study to model adversarial noise by learning the transition relationship between adversarial labels (i.e. the flipped labels used to generate adversarial data) and natural labels (i.e. the ground truth labels of the natural data). Specifically, we introduce an instance-dependent transition matrix to relate adversarial labels and natural labels, which can be seamlessly embedded with the target model (enabling us to model stronger adaptive adversarial noise). Empirical evaluations demonstrate that our method could effectively improve adversarial accuracy.

# #317
Improving Adversarial Robustness via Mutual Information Estimation

Dawei Zhou · Nannan Wang · Xinbo Gao · Bo Han · Xiaoyu Wang · Yibing Zhan · Tongliang Liu

Deep neural networks (DNNs) are found to be vulnerable to adversarial noise. They are typically misled by adversarial samples to make wrong predictions. To alleviate this negative effect, in this paper, we investigate the dependence between outputs of the target model and input adversarial samples from the perspective of information theory, and propose an adversarial defense method. Specifically, we first measure the dependence by estimating the mutual information (MI) between outputs and the natural patterns of inputs (called natural MI) and MI between outputs and the adversarial patterns of inputs (called adversarial MI), respectively. We find that adversarial samples usually have larger adversarial MI and smaller natural MI compared with those w.r.t. natural samples. Motivated by this observation, we propose to enhance the adversarial robustness by maximizing the natural MI and minimizing the adversarial MI during the training process. In this way, the target model is expected to pay more attention to the natural pattern that contains objective semantics. Empirical evaluations demonstrate that our method could effectively improve the adversarial accuracy against multiple attacks.

# #315
FOCUS: Familiar Objects in Common and Uncommon Settings

Priyatham Kattakinda · Soheil Feizi

Standard training datasets for deep learning often do not contain objects in uncommon and rare settings (e.g., “a plane on water”, “a car in snowy weather”). This can cause models trained on these datasets to incorrectly predict objects that are typical for the context in the image, rather than identifying the objects that are actually present. In this paper, we introduce FOCUS (Familiar Objects in Common and Uncommon Settings), a dataset for stress-testing the generalization power of deep image classifiers. By leveraging the power of modern search engines, we deliberately gather data containing objects in common and uncommon settings; in a wide range of locations, weather conditions, and time of day. We present a detailed analysis of the performance of various popular image classifiers on our dataset and demonstrate a clear drop in accuracy when classifying images in uncommon settings. We also show that finetuning a model on our dataset drastically improves its ability to focus on the object of interest leading to better generalization. Lastly, we leverage FOCUS to machine annotate additional visual attributes for the entirety of ImageNet. We believe that our dataset will aid researchers in understanding the inability of deep models to generalize well to uncommon settings and drive future work on improving their distributional robustness.

# #313
Query-Efficient and Scalable Black-Box Adversarial Attacks on Discrete Sequential Data via Bayesian Optimization

Deokjae Lee · Seungyong Moon · Junhyeok Lee · Hyun Oh Song

We focus on the problem of adversarial attacks against models on discrete sequential data in the black-box setting where the attacker aims to craft adversarial examples with limited query access to the victim model. Existing black-box attacks, mostly based on greedy algorithms, find adversarial examples using pre-computed key positions to perturb, which severely limits the search space and might result in suboptimal solutions. To this end, we propose a query-efficient black-box attack using Bayesian optimization, which dynamically computes important positions using an automatic relevance determination (ARD) categorical kernel. We introduce block decomposition and history subsampling techniques to improve the scalability of Bayesian optimization when an input sequence becomes long. Moreover, we develop a post-optimization algorithm that finds adversarial examples with smaller perturbation size. Experiments on natural language and protein classification tasks demonstrate that our method consistently achieves higher attack success rate with significant reduction in query count and modification rate compared to the previous state-of-the-art methods.

# #311
Test-Time Training Can Close the Natural Distribution Shift Performance Gap in Deep Learning Based Compressed Sensing

Mohammad Zalbagi Darestani · Jiayu Liu · Reinhard Heckel

Deep learning based image reconstruction methods outperform traditional methods. However, neural networks suffer from a performance drop when applied to images from a different distribution than the training images. For example, a model trained for reconstructing knees in accelerated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) does not reconstruct brains well, even though the same network trained on brains reconstructs brains perfectly well. Thus there is a distribution shift performance gap for a given neural network, defined as the difference in performance when training on a distribution $P$ and training on another distribution $Q$, and evaluating both models on $Q$. In this work, we propose a domain adaptation method for deep learning based compressive sensing that relies on self-supervision during training paired with test-time training at inference. We show that for four natural distribution shifts, this method essentially closes the distribution shift performance gap for state-of-the-art architectures for accelerated MRI.

# #309
A Dynamical System Perspective for Lipschitz Neural Networks

Laurent Meunier · Blaise Delattre · Alexandre ARAUJO · Alexandre Allauzen

The Lipschitz constant of neural networks has been established as a key quantity to enforce the robustness to adversarial examples. In this paper, we tackle the problem of building $1$-Lipschitz Neural Networks. By studying Residual Networks from a continuous time dynamical system perspective, we provide a generic method to build $1$-Lipschitz Neural Networks and show that some previous approaches are special cases of this framework. Then, we extend this reasoning and show that ResNet flows derived from convex potentials define $1$-Lipschitz transformations, that lead us to define the {\em Convex Potential Layer} (CPL). A comprehensive set of experiments on several datasets demonstrates the scalability of our architecture and the benefits as an $\ell_2$-provable defense against adversarial examples. Our code is available at \url{}

# #307
Data Determines Distributional Robustness in Contrastive Language Image Pre-training (CLIP)

Alex Fang · Gabriel Ilharco · Mitchell Wortsman · Yuhao Wan · Vaishaal Shankar · Achal Dave · Ludwig Schmidt

Contrastively trained language-image models such as CLIP, ALIGN, and BASIC have demonstrated unprecedented robustness to multiple challenging natural distribution shifts. Since these language-image models differ from previous training approaches in several ways, an important question is what causes the large robustness gains. We answer this question via a systematic experimental investigation. Concretely, we study five different possible causes for the robustness gains: (i) the training set size, (ii) the training distribution, (iii) language supervision at training time, (iv) language supervision at test time, and (v) the contrastive loss function. Our experiments show that the more diverse training distribution is the main cause for the robustness gains, with the other factors contributing little to no robustness. Beyond our experimental results, we also introduce ImageNet-Captions, a version of ImageNet with original text annotations from Flickr, to enable further controlled experiments of language-image training.

# #305
Neurotoxin: Durable Backdoors in Federated Learning

Zhengming Zhang · Ashwinee Panda · Linyue Song · Yaoqing Yang · Michael Mahoney · Prateek Mittal · Kannan Ramchandran · Joseph E Gonzalez

Federated learning (FL) systems have an inherent vulnerability to adversarial backdoor attacks during training due to their decentralized nature. The goal of the attacker is to implant backdoors in the learned model with poisoned updates such that at test time, the model's outputs can be fixed to a given target for certain inputs (e.g., if a user types people from New York'' into a mobile keyboard app that uses a backdoored next word prediction model, the model will autocomplete their sentence topeople in New York are rude''). Prior work has shown that backdoors can be inserted in FL, but these backdoors are not durable: they do not remain in the model after the attacker stops uploading poisoned updates because training continues, and in production FL systems an inserted backdoor may not survive until deployment. We propose Neurotoxin, a simple one-line backdoor attack that functions by attacking parameters that are changed less in magnitude during training. We conduct an exhaustive evaluation across ten natural language processing and computer vision tasks and find that we can double the durability of state of the art backdoors by adding a single line with Neurotoxin.

# #303
Bayesian Learning with Information Gain Provably Bounds Risk for a Robust Adversarial Defense

Bao Gia Doan · Ehsan Abbasnejad · Javen Qinfeng Shi · Damith Ranashinghe

We present a new algorithm to learn a deep neural network model robust against adversarial attacks. Previous algorithms demonstrate an adversarially trained Bayesian Neural Network (BNN) provides improved robustness. We recognize the learning approach for approximating the multi-modal posterior distribution of an adversarially trained Bayesian model can lead to mode collapse; consequently, the model's achievements in robustness and performance are sub-optimal. Instead, we first propose preventing mode collapse to better approximate the multi-modal posterior distribution. Second, based on the intuition that a robust model should ignore perturbations and only consider the informative content of the input, we conceptualize and formulate an information gain objective to measure and force the information learned from both benign and adversarial training instances to be similar. Importantly. we prove and demonstrate that minimizing the information gain objective allows the adversarial risk to approach the conventional empirical risk. We believe our efforts provide a step towards a basis for a principled method of adversarially training BNNs. Our extensive experimental results demonstrate significantly improved robustness up to 20% compared with adversarial training and Adv-BNN under PGD attacks with 0.035 distortion on both CIFAR-10 and STL-10 dataset.

# #301
Maximum Likelihood Training for Score-based Diffusion ODEs by High Order Denoising Score Matching

Cheng Lu · Kaiwen Zheng · Fan Bao · Jianfei Chen · Chongxuan Li · Jun Zhu

Score-based generative models have excellent performance in terms of generation quality and likelihood. They model the data distribution by matching a parameterized score network with first-order data score functions. The score network can be used to define an ODE (``score-based diffusion ODE'') for exact likelihood evaluation. However, the relationship between the likelihood of the ODE and the score matching objective is unclear. In this work, we prove that matching the first-order score is not sufficient to maximize the likelihood of the ODE, by showing a gap between the maximum likelihood and score matching objectives. To fill up this gap, we show that the negative likelihood of the ODE can be bounded by controlling the first, second, and third-order score matching errors; and we further present a novel high-order denoising score matching method to enable maximum likelihood training of score-based diffusion ODEs. Our algorithm guarantees that the higher-order matching error is bounded by the training error and the lower-order errors. We empirically observe that by high-order score matching, score-based diffusion ODEs achieve better likelihood on both synthetic data and CIFAR-10, while retaining the high generation quality.

# #400
Fast Lossless Neural Compression with Integer-Only Discrete Flows

Siyu Wang · Jianfei Chen · Chongxuan Li · Jun Zhu · Bo Zhang

By applying entropy codecs with learned data distributions, neural compressors have significantly outperformed traditional codecs in terms of compression ratio. However, the high inference latency of neural networks hinders the deployment of neural compressors in practical applications. In this work, we propose Integer-only Discrete Flows (IODF) an efficient neural compressor with integer-only arithmetic. Our work is built upon integer discrete flows, which consists of invertible transformations between discrete random variables. We propose efficient invertible transformations with integer-only arithmetic based on 8-bit quantization. Our invertible transformation is equipped with learnable binary gates to remove redundant filters during inference. We deploy IODF with TensorRT on GPUs, achieving $10\times$ inference speedup compared to the fastest existing neural compressors, while retaining the high compression rates on ImageNet32 and ImageNet64.

# #402
SQ-VAE: Variational Bayes on Discrete Representation with Self-annealed Stochastic Quantization

Yuhta Takida · Takashi Shibuya · WeiHsiang Liao · Chieh-Hsin Lai · Junki Ohmura · Toshimitsu Uesaka · Naoki Murata · Shusuke Takahashi · Toshiyuki Kumakura · Yuki Mitsufuji

One noted issue of vector-quantized variational autoencoder (VQ-VAE) is that the learned discrete representation uses only a fraction of the full capacity of the codebook, also known as codebook collapse. We hypothesize that the training scheme of VQ-VAE, which involves some carefully designed heuristics, underlies this issue. In this paper, we propose a new training scheme that extends the standard VAE via novel stochastic dequantization and quantization, called stochastically quantized variational autoencoder (SQ-VAE). In SQ-VAE, we observe a trend that the quantization is stochastic at the initial stage of the training but gradually converges toward a deterministic quantization, which we call self-annealing. Our experiments show that SQ-VAE improves codebook utilization without using common heuristics. Furthermore, we empirically show that SQ-VAE is superior to VAE and VQ-VAE in vision- and speech-related tasks.

# #404
SCHA-VAE: Hierarchical Context Aggregation for Few-Shot Generation

Giorgio Giannone · Ole Winther

A few-shot generative model should be able to generate data from a novel distribution by only observing a limited set of examples. In few-shot learning the model is trained on data from many sets from distributions sharing some underlying properties such as sets of characters from different alphabets or objects from different categories. We extend current latent variable models for sets to a fully hierarchical approach with an attention-based point to set-level aggregation and call our method SCHA-VAE for Set-Context-Hierarchical-Aggregation Variational Autoencoder. We explore likelihood-based model comparison, iterative data sampling, and adaptation-free out-of-distribution generalization. Our results show that the hierarchical formulation better captures the intrinsic variability within the sets in the small data regime. This work generalizes deep latent variable approaches to few-shot learning, taking a step toward large-scale few-shot generation with a formulation that readily works with current state-of-the-art deep generative models.

# #406
DAdaQuant: Doubly-adaptive quantization for communication-efficient Federated Learning

Robert Hönig · Yiren Zhao · Robert Mullins

Federated Learning (FL) is a powerful technique to train a model on a server with data from several clients in a privacy-preserving manner. FL incurs significant communication costs because it repeatedly transmits the model between the server and clients. Recently proposed algorithms quantize the model parameters to efficiently compress FL communication. We find that dynamic adaptations of the quantization level can boost compression without sacrificing model quality. We introduce DAdaQuant as a doubly-adaptive quantization algorithm that dynamically changes the quantization level across time and different clients. Our experiments show that DAdaQuant consistently improves client$\rightarrow$server compression, outperforming the strongest non-adaptive baselines by up to $2.8\times$.

# #408
Unsupervised Time-Series Representation Learning with Iterative Bilinear Temporal-Spectral Fusion

Ling Yang · Shenda Hong

Unsupervised/self-supervised time series representation learning is a challenging problem because of its complex dynamics and sparse annotations. Existing works mainly adopt the framework of contrastive learning with the time-based augmentation techniques to sample positives and negatives for contrastive training. Nevertheless, they mostly use segment-level augmentation derived from time slicing, which may bring about sampling bias and incorrect optimization with false negatives due to the loss of global context. Besides, they all pay no attention to incorporate the spectral information in feature representation. In this paper, we propose a unified framework, namely Bilinear Temporal-Spectral Fusion (BTSF). Specifically, we firstly utilize the instance-level augmentation with a simple dropout on the entire time series for maximally capturing long-term dependencies. We devise a novel iterative bilinear temporal-spectral fusion to explicitly encode the affinities of abundant time-frequency pairs, and iteratively refines representations in a fusion-and-squeeze manner with Spectrum-to-Time (S2T) and Time-to-Spectrum (T2S) Aggregation modules. We firstly conducts downstream evaluations on three major tasks for time series including classification, forecasting and anomaly detection. Experimental results shows that our BTSF consistently significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art methods.

# #410
RetrievalGuard: Provably Robust 1-Nearest Neighbor Image Retrieval

Yihan Wu · Hongyang Zhang · Heng Huang

Recent research works have shown that image retrieval models are vulnerable to adversarial attacks, where slightly modified test inputs could lead to problematic retrieval results. In this paper, we aim to design a provably robust image retrieval model which keeps the most important evaluation metric Recall@1 invariant to adversarial perturbation. We propose the first 1-nearest neighbor (NN) image retrieval algorithm, RetrievalGuard, which is provably robust against adversarial perturbations within an $\ell_2$ ball of calculable radius. The challenge is to design a provably robust algorithm that takes into consideration the 1-NN search and the high-dimensional nature of the embedding space. Algorithmically, given a base retrieval model and a query sample, we build a smoothed retrieval model by carefully analyzing the 1-NN search procedure in the high-dimensional embedding space. We show that the smoothed retrieval model has bounded Lipschitz constant and thus the retrieval score is invariant to $\ell_2$ adversarial perturbations. Experiments on on image retrieval tasks validate the robustness of our RetrievalGuard method.

# #412
Modeling Structure with Undirected Neural Networks

Tsvetomila Mihaylova · Vlad Niculae · Andre Filipe Torres Martins

Neural networks are powerful function estimators, leading to their status as a paradigm of choice for modeling structured data. However, unlike other structured representations that emphasize the modularity of the problem – e.g., factor graphs – neural networks are usually monolithic mappings from inputs to outputs, with a fixed computation order. This limitation prevents them from capturing different directions of computation and interaction between the modeled variables. In this paper, we combine the representational strengths of factor graphs and of neural networks, proposing undirected neural networks (UNNs): a flexible framework for specifying computations that can be performed in any order. For particular choices, our proposed models subsume and extend many existing architectures: feed-forward, recurrent, self-attention networks, auto-encoders, and networks with implicit layers. We demonstrate the effectiveness of undirected neural architectures, both unstructured and structured, on a range of tasks: tree-constrained dependency parsing, convolutional image classification, and sequence completion with attention. By varying the computation order, we show how a single UNN can be used both as a classifier and a prototype generator, and how it can fill in missing parts of an input sequence, making them a promising field for further research.

# #414
Certified Neural Network Watermarks with Randomized Smoothing

Arpit Bansal · Ping-yeh Chiang · Michael Curry · Rajiv Jain · Curtis Wigington · Varun Manjunatha · John P Dickerson · Tom Goldstein

Watermarking is a commonly used strategy to protect creators' rights to digital images, videos and audio. Recently, watermarking methods have been extended to deep learning models -- in principle, the watermark should be preserved when an adversary tries to copy the model. However, in practice, watermarks can often be removed by an intelligent adversary. Several papers have proposed watermarking methods that claim to be empirically resistant to different types of removal attacks, but these new techniques often fail in the face of new or better-tuned adversaries. In this paper, we propose the first \emph{certifiable} watermarking method. Using the randomized smoothing technique, we show that our watermark is guaranteed to be unremovable unless the model parameters are changed by more than a certain $\ell_2$ threshold. In addition to being certifiable, our watermark is also empirically more robust compared to previous watermarking methods.

# #416
Improved Certified Defenses against Data Poisoning with (Deterministic) Finite Aggregation

Wenxiao Wang · Alexander Levine · Soheil Feizi

Data poisoning attacks aim at manipulating model behaviors through distorting training data. Previously, an aggregation-based certified defense, Deep Partition Aggregation (DPA), was proposed to mitigate this threat. DPA predicts through an aggregation of base classifiers trained on disjoint subsets of data, thus restricting its sensitivity to dataset distortions. In this work, we propose an improved certified defense against general poisoning attacks, namely Finite Aggregation. In contrast to DPA, which directly splits the training set into disjoint subsets, our method first splits the training set into smaller disjoint subsets and then combines duplicates of them to build larger (but not disjoint) subsets for training base classifiers. This reduces the worst-case impacts of poison samples and thus improves certified robustness bounds. In addition, we offer an alternative view of our method, bridging the designs of deterministic and stochastic aggregation-based certified defenses. Empirically, our proposed Finite Aggregation consistently improves certificates on MNIST, CIFAR-10, and GTSRB, boosting certified fractions by up to 3.05%, 3.87% and 4.77%, respectively, while keeping the same clean accuracies as DPA's, effectively establishing a new state of the art in (pointwise) certified robustness against data poisoning.

# #418
Adversarial Vulnerability of Randomized Ensembles

Hassan Dbouk · Naresh Shanbhag

Despite the tremendous success of deep neural networks across various tasks, their vulnerability to imperceptible adversarial perturbations has hindered their deployment in the real world. Recently, works on randomized ensembles have empirically demonstrated significant improvements in adversarial robustness over standard adversarially trained (AT) models with minimal computational overhead, making them a promising solution for safety-critical resource-constrained applications. However, this impressive performance raises the question: Are these robustness gains provided by randomized ensembles real? In this work we address this question both theoretically and empirically. We first establish theoretically that commonly employed robustness evaluation methods such as adaptive PGD provide a false sense of security in this setting. Subsequently, we propose a theoretically-sound and efficient adversarial attack algorithm (ARC) capable of compromising random ensembles even in cases where adaptive PGD fails to do so. We conduct comprehensive experiments across a variety of network architectures, training schemes, datasets, and norms to support our claims, and empirically establish that randomized ensembles are in fact more vulnerable to $\ell_p$-bounded adversarial perturbations than even standard AT models. Our code can be found at

# #420
Robustness Verification for Contrastive Learning

Zekai Wang · Weiwei Liu

Contrastive adversarial training has successfully improved the robustness of contrastive learning (CL). However, the robustness metric used in these methods is linked to attack algorithms, image labels and downstream tasks, all of which may affect the consistency and reliability of robustness metric for CL. To address these problems, this paper proposes a novel Robustness Verification framework for Contrastive Learning (RVCL). Furthermore, we use extreme value theory to reveal the relationship between the robust radius of the CL encoder and that of the supervised downstream task. Extensive experimental results on various benchmark models and datasets verify our theoretical findings, and further demonstrate that our proposed RVCL is able to evaluate the robustness of both models and images. Our code is available at

# #422
The CLRS Algorithmic Reasoning Benchmark

Petar Veličković · Adrià Puigdomenech Badia · David Budden · Razvan Pascanu · Andrea Banino · Misha Dashevskiy · Raia Hadsell · Charles Blundell

Learning representations of algorithms is an emerging area of machine learning, seeking to bridge concepts from neural networks with classical algorithms. Several important works have investigated whether neural networks can effectively reason like algorithms, typically by learning to execute them. The common trend in the area, however, is to generate targeted kinds of algorithmic data to evaluate specific hypotheses, making results hard to transfer across publications, and increasing the barrier of entry. To consolidate progress and work towards unified evaluation, we propose the CLRS Algorithmic Reasoning Benchmark, covering classical algorithms from the Introduction to Algorithms textbook. Our benchmark spans a variety of algorithmic reasoning procedures, including sorting, searching, dynamic programming, graph algorithms, string algorithms and geometric algorithms. We perform extensive experiments to demonstrate how several popular algorithmic reasoning baselines perform on these tasks, and consequently, highlight links to several open challenges. Our library is readily available at

# #424
Finding Global Homophily in Graph Neural Networks When Meeting Heterophily

Xiang Li · Renyu Zhu · Yao Cheng · Caihua Shan · Siqiang Luo · Dongsheng Li · Weining Qian

We investigate graph neural networks on graphs with heterophily. Some existing methods amplify a node’s neighborhood with multi-hop neighbors to include more nodes with homophily. However, it is a significant challenge to set personalized neighborhood sizes for different nodes. Further, for other homophilous nodes excluded in the neighborhood, they are ignored for information aggregation. To address these problems, we propose two models GloGNN and GloGNN++, which generate a node’s embedding by aggregating information from global nodes in the graph. In each layer, both models learn a coefficient matrix to capture the correlations between nodes, based on which neighborhood aggregation is performed. The coefficient matrix allows signed values and is derived from an optimization problem that has a closed-form solution. We further accelerate neighborhood aggregation and derive a linear time complexity. We theoretically explain the models’ effectiveness by proving that both the coefficient matrix and the generated node embedding matrix have the desired grouping effect. We conduct extensive experiments to compare our models against 11 other competitors on 15 benchmark datasets in a wide range of domains, scales and graph heterophilies. Experimental results show that our methods achieve superior performance and are also very efficient.

# #426
Understanding Robust Generalization in Learning Regular Languages

Soham Dan · Osbert Bastani · Dan Roth

A key feature of human intelligence is the ability to generalize beyond the training distribution, for instance, parsing longer sentences than seen in the past. Currently, deep neural networks struggle to generalize robustly to such shifts in the data distribution. We study robust generalization in the context of using recurrent neural networks (RNNs) to learn regular languages. We hypothesize that standard end-to-end modeling strategies cannot generalize well to systematic distribution shifts and propose a compositional strategy to address this. We compare an end-to-end strategy that maps strings to labels with a compositional strategy that predicts the structure of the deterministic finite state automaton (DFA) that accepts the regular language. We theoretically prove that the compositional strategy generalizes significantly better than the end-to-end strategy. In our experiments, we implement the compositional strategy via an auxiliary task where the goal is to predict the intermediate states visited by the DFA when parsing a string. Our empirical results support our hypothesis, showing that auxiliary tasks can enable robust generalization. Interestingly, the end-to-end RNN generalizes significantly better than the theoretical lower bound, suggesting that it is able to achieve atleast some degree of robust generalization.

# #428
Improving Robustness against Real-World and Worst-Case Distribution Shifts through Decision Region Quantification

Leo Schwinn · Leon Bungert · An Nguyen · René Raab · Falk Pulsmeyer · Doina Precup · Bjoern Eskofier · Dario Zanca

The reliability of neural networks is essential for their use in safety-critical applications. Existing approaches generally aim at improving the robustness of neural networks to either real-world distribution shifts (e.g., common corruptions and perturbations, spatial transformations, and natural adversarial examples) or worst-case distribution shifts (e.g., optimized adversarial examples). In this work, we propose the Decision Region Quantification (DRQ) algorithm to improve the robustness of any differentiable pre-trained model against both real-world and worst-case distribution shifts in the data. DRQ analyzes the robustness of local decision regions in the vicinity of a given data point to make more reliable predictions. We theoretically motivate the DRQ algorithm by showing that it effectively smooths spurious local extrema in the decision surface. Furthermore, we propose an implementation using targeted and untargeted adversarial attacks. An extensive empirical evaluation shows that DRQ increases the robustness of adversarially and non-adversarially trained models against real-world and worst-case distribution shifts on several computer vision benchmark datasets.

# #432
AdAUC: End-to-end Adversarial AUC Optimization Against Long-tail Problems

Wenzheng Hou · Qianqian Xu · zhiyong yang · Shilong Bao · Yuan He · Qingming Huang

It is well-known that deep learning models are vulnerable to adversarial examples. Existing studies of adversarial training have made great progress against this challenge. As a typical trait, they often assume that the class distribution is overall balanced. However, long-tail datasets are ubiquitous in a wide spectrum of applications, where the amount of head class instances is significantly larger than the tail classes. Under such a scenario, AUC is a much more reasonable metric than accuracy since it is insensitive toward class distribution. Motivated by this, we present an early trial to explore adversarial training methods to optimize AUC. The main challenge lies in that the positive and negative examples are tightly coupled in the objective function. As a direct result, one cannot generate adversarial examples without a full scan of the dataset. To address this issue, based on a concavity regularization scheme, we reformulate the AUC optimization problem as a saddle point problem, where the objective becomes an instance-wise function. This leads to an end-to-end training protocol. Furthermore, we provide a convergence guarantee of the proposed training algorithm. Our analysis differs from the existing studies since the algorithm is asked to generate adversarial examples by calculating the gradient of a min-max problem. Finally, the extensive experimental results show the performance and robustness of our algorithm in three long-tail datasets.

# #434
A Modern Self-Referential Weight Matrix That Learns to Modify Itself

Kazuki Irie · Imanol Schlag · Robert Cordas · Jürgen Schmidhuber

The weight matrix (WM) of a neural network (NN) is its program. The programs of many traditional NNs are learned through gradient descent in some error function, then remain fixed. The WM of a self-referential NN, however, can keep rapidly modifying all of itself during runtime. In principle, such NNs can meta-learn to learn, and meta-meta-learn to meta-learn to learn, and so on, in the sense of recursive self-improvement. While NN architectures potentially capable of implementing such behaviour have been proposed since the '90s, there have been few if any practical studies. Here we revisit such NNs, building upon recent successes of fast weight programmers and closely related linear Transformers. We propose a scalable self-referential WM (SRWM) that learns to use outer products and the delta update rule to modify itself. We evaluate our SRWM in supervised few-shot learning and in multi-task reinforcement learning with procedurally generated game environments. Our experiments demonstrate both practical applicability and competitive performance of the proposed SRWM. Our code is public.

# #436
Short-Term Plasticity Neurons Learning to Learn and Forget

Hector Garcia Rodriguez · Qinghai Guo · Timoleon Moraitis

Short-term plasticity (STP) is a mechanism that stores decaying memories in synapses of the cerebral cortex. In computing practice, STP has been used, but mostly in the niche of spiking neurons, even though theory predicts that it is the optimal solution to certain dynamic tasks. Here we present a new type of recurrent neural unit, the STP Neuron (STPN), which indeed turns out strikingly powerful. Its key mechanism is that synapses have a state, propagated through time by a self-recurrent connection-within-the-synapse. This formulation enables training the plasticity with backpropagation through time, resulting in a form of learning to learn and forget in the short term. The STPN outperforms all tested alternatives, i.e. RNNs, LSTMs, other models with fast weights, and differentiable plasticity. We confirm this in both supervised and reinforcement learning (RL), and in tasks such as Associative Retrieval, Maze Exploration, Atari video games, and MuJoCo robotics. Moreover, we calculate that, in neuromorphic or biological circuits, the STPN minimizes energy consumption across models, as it depresses individual synapses dynamically. Based on these, biological STP may have been a strong evolutionary attractor that maximizes both efficiency and computational power. The STPN now brings these neuromorphic advantages also to a broad spectrum of machine learning practice. Code is available in

# #438
$p$-Laplacian Based Graph Neural Networks

Guoji Fu · Peilin Zhao · Yatao Bian

Graph neural networks (GNNs) have demonstrated superior performance for semi-supervised node classification on graphs, as a result of their ability to exploit node features and topological information simultaneously. However, most GNNs implicitly assume that the labels of nodes and their neighbors in a graph are the same or consistent, which does not hold in heterophilic graphs, where the labels of linked nodes are likely to differ. Moreover, when the topology is non-informative for label prediction, ordinary GNNs may work significantly worse than simply applying multi-layer perceptrons (MLPs) on each node. To tackle the above problem, we propose a new $p$-Laplacian based GNN model, termed as $^p$GNN, whose message passing mechanism is derived from a discrete regularization framework and could be theoretically explained as an approximation of a polynomial graph filter defined on the spectral domain of $p$-Laplacians. The spectral analysis shows that the new message passing mechanism works as low-high-pass filters, thus making $^p$GNNs are effective on both homophilic and heterophilic graphs. Empirical studies on real-world and synthetic datasets validate our findings and demonstrate that $^p$GNNs significantly outperform several state-of-the-art GNN architectures on heterophilic benchmarks while achieving competitive performance on homophilic benchmarks. Moreover, $^p$GNNs can adaptively learn aggregation weights and are robust to noisy edges.

# #439
Equivariant Quantum Graph Circuits

Peter Mernyei · Konstantinos Meichanetzidis · Ismail Ceylan

We investigate quantum circuits for graph representation learning, and propose equivariant quantum graph circuits (EQGCs), as a class of parameterized quantum circuits with strong relational inductive bias for learning over graph-structured data. Conceptually, EQGCs serve as a unifying framework for quantum graph representation learning, allowing us to define several interesting subclasses which subsume existing proposals. In terms of the representation power, we prove that the studied subclasses of EQGCs are universal approximators for functions over the bounded graph domain. This theoretical perspective on quantum graph machine learning methods opens many directions for further work, and could lead to models with capabilities beyond those of classical approaches. We empirically verify the expressive power of EQGCs through a dedicated experiment on synthetic data, and additionally observe that the performance of EQGCs scales well with the depth of the model and does not suffer from barren plateu issues.

# #437
A Theoretical Comparison of Graph Neural Network Extensions

Pál András Papp · Roger Wattenhofer

We study and compare different Graph Neural Network extensions that increase the expressive power of GNNs beyond the Weisfeiler-Leman test. We focus on (i) GNNs based on higher order WL methods, (ii) GNNs that preprocess small substructures in the graph, (iii) GNNs that preprocess the graph up to a small radius, and (iv) GNNs that slightly perturb the graph to compute an embedding. We begin by presenting a simple improvement for this last extension that strictly increases the expressive power of this GNN variant. Then, as our main result, we compare the expressiveness of these extensions to each other through a series of example constructions that can be distinguished by one of the extensions, but not by another one. We also show negative examples that are particularly challenging for each of the extensions, and we prove several claims about the ability of these extensions to count cliques and cycles in the graph.

# #435
Variational On-the-Fly Personalization

Jangho Kim · Jun-Tae Lee · Simyung Chang · NOJUN KWAK

With the development of deep learning (DL) technologies, the demand for DL-based services on personal devices, such as mobile phones, also increases rapidly. In this paper, we propose a novel personalization method, Variational On-the-Fly Personalization. Compared to the conventional personalization methods that require additional fine-tuning with personal data, the proposed method only requires forwarding a handful of personal data on-the-fly. Assuming even a single personal data can convey the characteristics of a target person, we develop the variational hyper-personalizer to capture the weight distribution of layers that fits the target person. In the testing phase, the hyper-personalizer estimates the model's weights on-the-fly based on personality by forwarding only a small amount of (even a single) personal enrollment data. Hence, the proposed method can perform the personalization without any training software platform and additional cost in the edge device. In experiments, we show our approach can effectively generate reliable personalized models via forwarding (not back-propagating) a handful of samples.

# #433
Deep symbolic regression for recurrence prediction

Stéphane d'Ascoli · Pierre-Alexandre Kamienny · Guillaume Lample · Francois Charton

Symbolic regression, i.e. predicting a function from the observation of its values, is well-known to be a challenging task. In this paper, we train Transformers to infer the function or recurrence relation underlying sequences of integers or floats, a typical task in human IQ tests which has hardly been tackled in the machine learning literature. We evaluate our integer model on a subset of OEIS sequences, and show that it outperforms built-in Mathematica functions for recurrence prediction. We also demonstrate that our float model is able to yield informative approximations of out-of-vocabulary functions and constants, e.g. $\operatorname{bessel0}(x)\approx \frac{\sin(x)+\cos(x)}{\sqrt{\pi x}}$ and $1.644934\approx \pi^2/6$.

# #431
Geometric Multimodal Contrastive Representation Learning

Petra Poklukar · Miguel Vasco · Hang Yin · Francisco S. Melo · Ana Paiva · Danica Kragic

Learning representations of multimodal data that are both informative and robust to missing modalities at test time remains a challenging problem due to the inherent heterogeneity of data obtained from different channels. To address it, we present a novel Geometric Multimodal Contrastive (GMC) representation learning method consisting of two main components: i) a two-level architecture consisting of modality-specific base encoders, allowing to process an arbitrary number of modalities to an intermediate representation of fixed dimensionality, and a shared projection head, mapping the intermediate representations to a latent representation space; ii) a multimodal contrastive loss function that encourages the geometric alignment of the learned representations. We experimentally demonstrate that GMC representations are semantically rich and achieve state-of-the-art performance with missing modality information on three different learning problems including prediction and reinforcement learning tasks.

# #429
Universality of Winning Tickets: A Renormalization Group Perspective

William T. Redman · Tianlong Chen · Zhangyang “Atlas” Wang · Akshunna S. Dogra

Foundational work on the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis has suggested an exciting corollary: winning tickets found in the context of one task can be transferred to similar tasks, possibly even across different architectures. This has generated broad interest, but methods to study this universality are lacking. We make use of renormalization group theory, a powerful tool from theoretical physics, to address this need. We find that iterative magnitude pruning, the principal algorithm used for discovering winning tickets, is a renormalization group scheme, and can be viewed as inducing a flow in parameter space. We demonstrate that ResNet-50 models with transferable winning tickets have flows with common properties, as would be expected from the theory. Similar observations are made for BERT models, with evidence that their flows are near fixed points. Additionally, we leverage our framework to study winning tickets transferred across ResNet architectures, observing that smaller models have flows with more uniform properties than larger models, complicating transfer between them.

# #427
Partial and Asymmetric Contrastive Learning for Out-of-Distribution Detection in Long-Tailed Recognition

Haotao Wang · Aston Zhang · Yi Zhu · Shuai Zheng · Mu Li · Alex Smola · Zhangyang “Atlas” Wang

Existing out-of-distribution (OOD) detection methods are typically benchmarked on training sets with balanced class distributions. However, in real-world applications, it is common for the training sets to have long-tailed distributions. In this work, we first demonstrate that existing OOD detection methods commonly suffer from significant performance degradation when the training set is long-tail distributed. Through analysis, we posit that this is because the models struggle to distinguish the minority tail-class in-distribution samples, from the true OOD samples, making the tail classes more prone to be falsely detected as OOD. To solve this problem, we propose Partial and Asymmetric Supervised Contrastive Learning (PASCL), which explicitly encourages the model to distinguish between tail-class in-distribution samples and OOD samples. To further boost in-distribution classification accuracy, we propose Auxiliary Branch Finetuning, which uses two separate branches of BN and classification layers for anomaly detection and in-distribution classification, respectively. The intuition is that in-distribution and OOD anomaly data have different underlying distributions. Our method outperforms previous state-of-the-art method by $1.29\%$, $1.45\%$, $0.69\%$ anomaly detection false positive rate (FPR) and $3.24\%$, $4.06\%$, $7.89\%$ in-distribution classification accuracy on CIFAR10-LT, CIFAR100-LT, and ImageNet-LT, respectively. Code and pre-trained models are available at

# #425
Loss Function Learning for Domain Generalization by Implicit Gradient

Boyan Gao · Henry Gouk · Yongxin Yang · Timothy Hospedales

Generalising robustly to distribution shift is a major challenge that is pervasive across most real-world applications of machine learning. A recent study highlighted that many advanced algorithms proposed to tackle such domain generalisation (DG) fail to outperform a properly tuned empirical risk minimisation (ERM) baseline. We take a different approach, and explore the impact of the ERM loss function on out-of-domain generalisation. In particular, we introduce a novel meta-learning approach to loss function search based on implicit gradient. This enables us to discover a general purpose parametric loss function that provides a drop-in replacement for cross-entropy. Our loss can be used in standard training pipelines to efficiently train robust models using any neural architecture on new datasets. The results show that it clearly surpasses cross-entropy, enables simple ERM to outperform some more complicated prior DG methods, and provides state-of-the-art performance across a variety of DG benchmarks. Furthermore, unlike most existing DG approaches, our setup applies to the most practical setting of single-source domain generalisation, on which we show significant improvement.

# #423
GraphFM: Improving Large-Scale GNN Training via Feature Momentum

Haiyang Yu · Limei Wang · Bokun Wang · Meng Liu · Tianbao Yang · Shuiwang Ji

Training of graph neural networks (GNNs) for large-scale node classification is challenging. A key difficulty lies in obtaining accurate hidden node representations while avoiding the neighborhood explosion problem. Here, we propose a new technique, named feature momentum (FM), that uses a momentum step to incorporate historical embeddings when updating feature representations. We develop two specific algorithms, known as GraphFM-IB and GraphFM-OB, that consider in-batch and out-of-batch data, respectively.GraphFM-IB applies FM to in-batch sampled data, while GraphFM-OB applies FM to out-of-batch data that are 1-hop neighborhood of in-batch data.We provide a convergence analysis for GraphFM-IB and some theoretical insight for GraphFM-OB. Empirically, we observe that GraphFM-IB can effectively alleviate the neighborhood explosion problem of existing methods. In addition, GraphFM-OB achieves promising performance on multiple large-scale graph datasets.

# #421
Generalization Guarantee of Training Graph Convolutional Networks with Graph Topology Sampling

Hongkang Li · Meng Wang · Sijia Liu · Pin-Yu Chen · Jinjun Xiong

Graph convolutional networks (GCNs) have recently achieved great empirical success in learning graph-structured data. To address its scalability issue due to the recursive embedding of neighboring features, graph topology sampling has been proposed to reduce the memory and computational cost of training GCNs, and it has achieved comparable test performance to those without topology sampling in many empirical studies. To the best of our knowledge, this paper provides the first theoretical justification of graph topology sampling in training (up to) three-layer GCNs for semi-supervised node classification. We formally characterize some sufficient conditions on graph topology sampling such that GCN training leads to diminishing generalization error. Moreover, our method tackles the non-convex interaction of weights across layers, which is under-explored in the existing theoretical analyses of GCNs. This paper characterizes the impact of graph structures and topology sampling on the generalization performance and sample complexity explicitly, and the theoretical findings are also justified through numerical experiments.

# #419
A Differential Entropy Estimator for Training Neural Networks

Georg Pichler · Pierre Colombo · Malik Boudiaf · Günther Koliander · Pablo Piantanida

Mutual Information (MI) has been widely used as a loss regularizer for training neural networks. This has been particularly effective when learn disentangled or compressed representations of high dimensional data. However, differential entropy (DE), another fundamental measure of information, has not found widespread use in neural network training. Although DE offers a potentially wider range of applications than MI, off-the-shelf DE estimators are either non differentiable, computationally intractable or fail to adapt to changes in the underlying distribution. These drawbacks prevent them from being used as regularizers in neural networks training. To address shortcomings in previously proposed estimators for DE, here we introduce KNIFE, a fully parameterized, differentiable kernel-based estimator of DE. The flexibility of our approach also allows us to construct KNIFE-based estimators for conditional (on either discrete or continuous variables) DE, as well as MI. We empirically validate our method on high-dimensional synthetic data and further apply it to guide the training of neural networks for real-world tasks. Our experiments on a large variety of tasks, including visual domain adaptation, textual fair classification, and textual fine-tuning demonstrate the effectiveness of KNIFE-based estimation. Code can be found at

# #417
Scaling Out-of-Distribution Detection for Real-World Settings

Dan Hendrycks · Steven Basart · Mantas Mazeika · Andy Zou · joseph kwon · Mohammadreza Mostajabi · Jacob Steinhardt · Dawn Song

Detecting out-of-distribution examples is important for safety-critical machine learning applications such as detecting novel biological phenomena and self-driving cars. However, existing research mainly focuses on simple small-scale settings. To set the stage for more realistic out-of-distribution detection, we depart from small-scale settings and explore large-scale multiclass and multi-label settings with high-resolution images and thousands of classes. To make future work in real-world settings possible, we create new benchmarks for three large-scale settings. To test ImageNet multiclass anomaly detectors, we introduce the Species dataset containing over 700,000 images and over a thousand anomalous species. We leverage ImageNet-21K to evaluate PASCAL VOC and COCO multilabel anomaly detectors. Third, we introduce a new benchmark for anomaly segmentation by introducing a segmentation benchmark with road anomalies. We conduct extensive experiments in these more realistic settings for out-of-distribution detection and find that a surprisingly simple detector based on the maximum logit outperforms prior methods in all the large-scale multi-class, multi-label, and segmentation tasks, establishing a simple new baseline for future work.

# #415
Score-based Generative Modeling of Graphs via the System of Stochastic Differential Equations

Jaehyeong Jo · Seul Lee · Sung Ju Hwang

Generating graph-structured data requires learning the underlying distribution of graphs. Yet, this is a challenging problem, and the previous graph generative methods either fail to capture the permutation-invariance property of graphs or cannot sufficiently model the complex dependency between nodes and edges, which is crucial for generating real-world graphs such as molecules. To overcome such limitations, we propose a novel score-based generative model for graphs with a continuous-time framework. Specifically, we propose a new graph diffusion process that models the joint distribution of the nodes and edges through a system of stochastic differential equations (SDEs). Then, we derive novel score matching objectives tailored for the proposed diffusion process to estimate the gradient of the joint log-density with respect to each component, and introduce a new solver for the system of SDEs to efficiently sample from the reverse diffusion process. We validate our graph generation method on diverse datasets, on which it either achieves significantly superior or competitive performance to the baselines. Further analysis shows that our method is able to generate molecules that lie close to the training distribution yet do not violate the chemical valency rule, demonstrating the effectiveness of the system of SDEs in modeling the node-edge relationships.

# #413
SPECTRE: Spectral Conditioning Helps to Overcome the Expressivity Limits of One-shot Graph Generators

Karolis Martinkus · Andreas Loukas · Nathanaël Perraudin · Roger Wattenhofer

We approach the graph generation problem from a spectral perspective by first generating the dominant parts of the graph Laplacian spectrum and then building a graph matching these eigenvalues and eigenvectors. Spectral conditioning allows for direct modeling of the global and local graph structure and helps to overcome the expressivity and mode collapse issues of one-shot graph generators.Our novel GAN, called SPECTRE, enables the one-shot generation of much larger graphs than previously possible with one-shot models. SPECTRE outperforms state-of-the-art deep autoregressive generators in terms of modeling fidelity, while also avoiding expensive sequential generation and dependence on node ordering. A case in point, in sizable synthetic and real-world graphs SPECTRE achieves a 4-to-170 fold improvement over the best competitor that does not overfit and is 23-to-30 times faster than autoregressive generators.

# #411
The Infinite Contextual Graph Markov Model

Daniele Castellana · Federico Errica · Davide Bacciu · Alessio Micheli

The Contextual Graph Markov Model (CGMM) is a deep, unsupervised, and probabilistic model for graphs that is trained incrementally on a layer-by-layer basis. As with most Deep Graph Networks, an inherent limitation is the need to perform an extensive model selection to choose the proper size of each layer's latent representation. In this paper, we address this problem by introducing the Infinite Contextual Graph Markov Model (iCGMM), the first deep Bayesian nonparametric model for graph learning. During training, iCGMM can adapt the complexity of each layer to better fit the underlying data distribution.On 8 graph classification tasks, we show that iCGMM: i) successfully recovers or improves CGMM's performances while reducing the hyper-parameters' search space; ii) performs comparably to most end-to-end supervised methods. The results include studies on the importance of depth, hyper-parameters, and compression of the graph embeddings. We also introduce a novel approximated inference procedure that better deals with larger graph topologies.

# #409
RankSim: Ranking Similarity Regularization for Deep Imbalanced Regression

Yu Gong · Greg Mori · Frederick Tung

Data imbalance, in which a plurality of the data samples come from a small proportion of labels, poses a challenge in training deep neural networks. Unlike classification, in regression the labels are continuous, potentially boundless, and form a natural ordering. These distinct features of regression call for new techniques that leverage the additional information encoded in label-space relationships. This paper presents the RankSim (ranking similarity) regularizer for deep imbalanced regression, which encodes an inductive bias that samples that are closer in label space should also be closer in feature space. In contrast to recent distribution smoothing based approaches, RankSim captures both nearby and distant relationships: for a given data sample, RankSim encourages the sorted list of its neighbors in label space to match the sorted list of its neighbors in feature space. RankSim is complementary to conventional imbalanced learning techniques, including re-weighting, two-stage training, and distribution smoothing, and lifts the state-of-the-art performance on three imbalanced regression benchmarks: IMDB-WIKI-DIR, AgeDB-DIR, and STS-B-DIR.

# #407
Detached Error Feedback for Distributed SGD with Random Sparsification

An Xu · Heng Huang

The communication bottleneck has been a critical problem in large-scale distributed deep learning. In this work, we study distributed SGD with random block-wise sparsification as the gradient compressor, which is ring-allreduce compatible and highly computation-efficient but leads to inferior performance. To tackle this important issue, we improve the communication-efficient distributed SGD from a novel aspect, that is, the trade-off between the variance and second moment of the gradient. With this motivation, we propose a new detached error feedback (DEF) algorithm, which shows better convergence bound than error feedback for non-convex problems. We also propose DEF-A to accelerate the generalization of DEF at the early stages of the training, which shows better generalization bounds than DEF. Furthermore, we establish the connection between communication-efficient distributed SGD and SGD with iterate averaging (SGD-IA) for the first time. Extensive deep learning experiments show significant empirical improvement of the proposed methods under various settings. Our reproducible codes and scripts for all experiments in this work will be made publicly available.

# #405
Training OOD Detectors in their Natural Habitats

Julian Katz-Samuels · Julia Nakhleh · Robert Nowak · Yixuan Li

Out-of-distribution (OOD) detection is important for machine learning models deployed in the wild. Recent methods use auxiliary outlier data to regularize the model for improved OOD detection. However, these approaches make a strong distributional assumption that the auxiliary outlier data is completely separable from the in-distribution (ID) data. In this paper, we propose a novel framework that leverages wild mixture data---that naturally consists of both ID and OOD samples. Such wild data is abundant and arises freely upon deploying a machine learning classifier in their natural habitats. Our key idea is to formulate a constrained optimization problem and to show how to tractably solve it. Our learning objective maximizes the OOD detection rate, subject to constraints on the classification error of ID data and on the OOD error rate of ID examples. We extensively evaluate our approach on common OOD detection tasks and demonstrate superior performance. Code is available at

# #403
Constrained Gradient Descent: A Powerful and Principled Evasion Attack Against Neural Networks

Weiran Lin · Keane Lucas · Lujo Bauer · Michael Reiter · Mahmood Sharif

We propose new, more efficient targeted white-box attacks against deep neural networks. Our attacks better align with the attacker's goal: (1) tricking a model to assign higher probability to the target class than to any other class, while (2) staying within an $\epsilon$-distance of the attacked input. First, we demonstrate a loss function that explicitly encodes (1) and show that Auto-PGD finds more attacks with it. Second, we propose a new attack method, Constrained Gradient Descent (CGD), usinga refinement of our loss function that captures both (1) and (2).CGD seeks to satisfyboth attacker objectives---misclassification and bounded $\ell_{p}$-norm---ina principled manner, as part of the optimization, instead of via ad hocpost-processing techniques (e.g., projection or clipping).We show that CGD is more successful on CIFAR10(0.9--4.2\%) and ImageNet (8.6--13.6\%) than state-of-the-art attacks while consuming less time (11.4--18.8\%). Statistical testsconfirm that our attack outperforms others against leading defenses on different datasets and values of $\epsilon$.

# #401
Neural Tangent Kernel Empowered Federated Learning

Kai Yue · Richeng Jin · Ryan Pilgrim · Chau-Wai Wong · Dror Baron · Huaiyu Dai

Federated learning (FL) is a privacy-preserving paradigm where multiple participants jointly solve a machine learning problem without sharing raw data. Unlike traditional distributed learning, a unique characteristic of FL is statistical heterogeneity, namely, data distributions across participants are different from each other. Meanwhile, recent advances in the interpretation of neural networks have seen a wide use of neural tangent kernels (NTKs) for convergence analyses. In this paper, we propose a novel FL paradigm empowered by the NTK framework. The paradigm addresses the challenge of statistical heterogeneity by transmitting update data that are more expressive than those of the conventional FL paradigms. Specifically, sample-wise Jacobian matrices, rather than model weights/gradients, are uploaded by participants. The server then constructs an empirical kernel matrix to update a global model without explicitly performing gradient descent. We further develop a variant with improved communication efficiency and enhanced privacy. Numerical results show that the proposed paradigm can achieve the same accuracy while reducing the number of communication rounds by an order of magnitude compared to federated averaging.

# #500
Probabilistically Robust Learning: Balancing Average- and Worst-case Performance

Alex Robey · Luiz F. O. Chamon · George J. Pappas · Hamed Hassani

Many of the successes of machine learning are based on minimizing an averaged loss function. However, it is well-known that this paradigm suffers from robustness issues that hinder its applicability in safety-critical domains. These issues are often addressed by training against worst-case perturbations of data, a technique known as adversarial training. Although empirically effective, adversarial training can be overly conservative, leading to unfavorable trade-offs between nominal performance and robustness. To this end, in this paper we propose a framework called probabilistic robustness that bridges the gap between the accurate, yet brittle average case and the robust, yet conservative worst case by enforcing robustness to most rather than to all perturbations. From a theoretical point of view, this framework overcomes the trade-offs between the performance and the sample-complexity of worst-case and average-case learning. From a practical point of view, we propose a novel algorithm based on risk-aware optimization that effectively balances average- and worst-case performance at a considerably lower computational cost relative to adversarial training. Our results on MNIST, CIFAR-10, and SVHN illustrate the advantages of this framework on the spectrum from average- to worst-case robustness. Our code is available at:

# #502
Adversarially trained neural representations are already as robust as biological neural representations

Chong Guo · Michael Lee · Guillaume Leclerc · Joel Dapello · Yug Rao · Aleksander Madry · James DiCarlo

Visual systems of primates are the gold standard of robust perception. There is thus a general belief that mimicking the neural representations that underlie those systems will yield artificial visual systems that are adversarially robust. In this work,we develop a method for performing adversarial visual attacks directly on primate brain activity. We then leverage this method to demonstrate that the above-mentioned belief might not be well-founded. Specifically, we report that the biological neurons that make up visual systems of primates exhibit susceptibility to adversarial perturbations that is comparable in magnitude to existing (robustly trained) artificial neural networks.

# #504
Feature Space Particle Inference for Neural Network Ensembles

Shingo Yashima · Teppei Suzuki · Kohta Ishikawa · Ikuro Sato · Rei Kawakami

Ensembles of deep neural networks demonstrate improved performance over single models. For enhancing the diversity of ensemble members while keeping their performance, particle-based inference methods offer a promising approach from a Bayesian perspective. However, the best way to apply these methods to neural networks is still unclear: seeking samples from the weight-space posterior suffers from inefficiency due to the over-parameterization issues, while seeking samples directly from the function-space posterior often leads to serious underfitting. In this study, we propose to optimize particles in the feature space where activations of a specific intermediate layer lie to alleviate the abovementioned difficulties. Our method encourages each member to capture distinct features, which are expected to increase the robustness of the ensemble prediction. Extensive evaluation on real-world datasets exhibits that our model significantly outperforms the gold-standard Deep Ensembles on various metrics, including accuracy, calibration, and robustness.

# #506
A Study on the Ramanujan Graph Property of Winning Lottery Tickets

Bithika Pal · Arindam Biswas · Sudeshna Kolay · Pabitra Mitra · Biswajit Basu

Winning lottery tickets refer to sparse subgraphs of deep neural networks which have classification accuracy close to the original dense networks. Resilient connectivity properties of such sparse networks play an important role in their performance. The attempt is to identify a sparse and yet well-connected network to guarantee unhindered information flow. Connectivity in a graph is best characterized by its spectral expansion property. Ramanujan graphs are robust expanders which lead to sparse but highly-connected networks, and thus aid in studying the winning tickets. A feedforward neural network consists of a sequence of bipartite graphs representing its layers. We analyze the Ramanujan graph property of such bipartite layers in terms of their spectral characteristics using the Cheeger’s inequality for irregular graphs. It is empirically observed that the winning ticket networks preserve the Ramanujan graph property and achieve a high accuracy even when the layers are sparse. Accuracy and robustness to noise start declining as many of the layers lose the property. Next we find a robust winning lottery ticket by pruning individual layers while retaining their respective Ramanujan graph property. This strategy is observed to improve the performance of existing network pruning algorithms.

# #508
PAC-Net: A Model Pruning Approach to Inductive Transfer Learning

Sanghoon Myung · In Huh · Wonik Jang · Jae Myung Choe · Jisu Ryu · Daesin Kim · Kee-Eung Kim · Changwook Jeong

Inductive transfer learning aims to learn from a small amount of training data for the target task by utilizing a pre-trained model from the source task. Most strategies that involve large-scale deep learning models adopt initialization with the pre-trained model and fine-tuning for the target task. However, when using over-parameterized models, we can often prune the model without sacrificing the accuracy of the source task. This motivates us to adopt model pruning for transfer learning with deep learning models. In this paper, we propose PAC-Net, a simple yet effective approach for transfer learning based on pruning. PAC-Net consists of three steps: Prune, Allocate, and Calibrate (PAC). The main idea behind these steps is to identify essential weights for the source task, fine-tune on the source task by updating the essential weights, and then calibrate on the target task by updating the remaining redundant weights. Under the various and extensive set of inductive transfer learning experiments, we show that our method achieves state-of-the-art performance by a large margin.

# #510
EDEN: Communication-Efficient and Robust Distributed Mean Estimation for Federated Learning

Shay Vargaftik · Ran Ben Basat · Amit Portnoy · Gal Mendelson · Yaniv Ben Itzhak · Michael Mitzenmacher

Distributed Mean Estimation (DME) is a central building block in federated learning, where clients send local gradients to a parameter server for averaging and updating the model. Due to communication constraints, clients often use lossy compression techniques to compress the gradients, resulting in estimation inaccuracies. DME is more challenging when clients have diverse network conditions, such as constrained communication budgets and packet losses. In such settings, DME techniques often incur a significant increase in the estimation error leading to degraded learning performance.In this work, we propose a robust DME technique named EDEN that naturally handles heterogeneous communication budgets and packet losses. We derive appealing theoretical guarantees for EDEN and evaluate it empirically. Our results demonstrate that EDEN consistently improves over state-of-the-art DME techniques.

# #512
Fisher SAM: Information Geometry and Sharpness Aware Minimisation

Minyoung Kim · Da Li · Xu Hu · Timothy Hospedales

Recent sharpness-aware minimisation (SAM) is known to find flat minima which is beneficial for better generalisation with improved robustness. SAM essentially modifies the loss function by the maximum loss value within the small neighborhood around the current iterate. However, it uses the Euclidean ball to define the neighborhood, which can be less accurate since loss functions for neural networks are typically defined over probability distributions (e.g., class predictive probabilities), rendering the parameter space no more Euclidean. In this paper we consider the information geometry of the model parameter space when defining the neighborhood, namely replacing SAM's Euclidean balls with ellipsoids induced by the Fisher information. Our approach, dubbed Fisher SAM, defines more accurate neighborhood structures that conform to the intrinsic metric of the underlying statistical manifold. For instance, SAM may probe the worst-case loss value at either a too nearby or inappropriately distant point due to the ignorance of the parameter space geometry, which is avoided by our Fisher SAM. Another recent Adaptive SAM approach that stretches/shrinks the Euclidean ball in accordance with the scales of the parameter magnitudes, might be dangerous, potentially destroying the neighborhood structure even severely. We demonstrate the improved performance of the proposed Fisher SAM on several benchmark datasets/tasks.

# #514
Deep Networks on Toroids: Removing Symmetries Reveals the Structure of Flat Regions in the Landscape Geometry

Fabrizio Pittorino · Antonio Ferraro · Gabriele Perugini · Christoph Feinauer · Carlo Baldassi · RIccardo Zecchina

We systematize the approach to the investigation of deep neural network landscapes by basing it on the geometry of the space of implemented functions rather than the space of parameters. Grouping classifiers into equivalence classes, we develop a standardized parameterization in which all symmetries are removed, resulting in a toroidal topology. On this space, we explore the error landscape rather than the loss. This lets us derive a meaningful notion of the flatness of minimizers and of the geodesic paths connecting them. Using different optimization algorithms that sample minimizers with different flatness we study the mode connectivity and relative distances. Testing a variety of state-of-the-art architectures and benchmark datasets, we confirm the correlation between flatness and generalization performance; we further show that in function space flatter minima are closer to each other and that the barriers along the geodesics connecting them are small. We also find that minimizers found by variants of gradient descent can be connected by zero-error paths composed of two straight lines in parameter space, i.e. polygonal chains with a single bend. We observe similar qualitative results in neural networks with binary weights and activations, providing one of the first results concerning the connectivity in this setting. Our results hinge on symmetry removal, and are in remarkable agreement with the rich phenomenology described by some recent analytical studies performed on simple shallow models.

# #516
Towards Understanding Sharpness-Aware Minimization

Maksym Andriushchenko · Nicolas Flammarion

Sharpness-Aware Minimization (SAM) is a recent training method that relies on worst-case weight perturbations which significantly improves generalization in various settings. We argue that the existing justifications for the success of SAM which are based on a PAC-Bayes generalization bound and the idea of convergence to flat minima are incomplete. Moreover, there are no explanations for the success of using m-sharpness in SAM which has been shown as essential for generalization. To better understand this aspect of SAM, we theoretically analyze its implicit bias for diagonal linear networks. We prove that SAM always chooses a solution that enjoys better generalization properties than standard gradient descent for a certain class of problems, and this effect is amplified by using m-sharpness. We further study the properties of the implicit bias on non-linear networks empirically, where we show that fine-tuning a standard model with SAM can lead to significant generalization improvements. Finally, we provide convergence results of SAM for non-convex objectives when used with stochastic gradients. We illustrate these results empirically for deep networks and discuss their relation to the generalization behavior of SAM. The code of our experiments is available at

# #518
Neural Tangent Kernel Beyond the Infinite-Width Limit: Effects of Depth and Initialization

Mariia Seleznova · Gitta Kutyniok

Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK) is widely used to analyze overparametrized neural networks due to the famous result by Jacot et al. (2018): in the infinite-width limit, the NTK is deterministic and constant during training. However, this result cannot explain the behavior of deep networks, since it generally does not hold if depth and width tend to infinity simultaneously. In this paper, we study the NTK of fully-connected ReLU networks with depth comparable to width. We prove that the NTK properties depend significantly on the depth-to-width ratio and the distribution of parameters at initialization. In fact, our results indicate the importance of the three phases in the hyperparameter space identified in Poole et al. (2016): ordered, chaotic and the edge of chaos (EOC). We derive exact expressions for the NTK dispersion in the infinite-depth-and-width limit in all three phases and conclude that the NTK variability grows exponentially with depth at the EOC and in the chaotic phase but not in the ordered phase. We also show that the NTK of deep networks may stay constant during training only in the ordered phase and discuss how the structure of the NTK matrix changes during training.

# #520
Implicit Bias of Linear Equivariant Networks

Hannah Lawrence · Bobak T Kiani · Kristian Georgiev · Andrew Dienes

Group equivariant convolutional neural networks (G-CNNs) are generalizations of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) which excel in a wide range of technical applications by explicitly encoding symmetries, such as rotations and permutations, in their architectures. Although the success of G-CNNs is driven by their explicit symmetry bias, a recent line of work has proposed that the implicit bias of training algorithms on particular architectures is key to understanding generalization for overparameterized neural nets. In this context, we show that L-layer full-width linear G-CNNs trained via gradient descent for binary classification converge to solutions with low-rank Fourier matrix coefficients, regularized by the 2/L-Schatten matrix norm. Our work strictly generalizes previous analysis on the implicit bias of linear CNNs to linear G-CNNs over all finite groups, including the challenging setting of non-commutative groups (such as permutations), as well as band-limited G-CNNs over infinite groups. We validate our theorems via experiments on a variety of groups, and empirically explore more realistic nonlinear networks, which locally capture similar regularization patterns. Finally, we provide intuitive interpretations of our Fourier space implicit regularization results in real space via uncertainty principles.

# #522
The State of Sparse Training in Deep Reinforcement Learning

Laura Graesser · Utku Evci · Erich Elsen · Pablo Samuel Castro

The use of sparse neural networks has seen rapid growth in recent years, particularly in computer vision. Their appeal stems largely from the reduced number of parameters required to train and store, as well as in an increase in learning efficiency. Somewhat surprisingly, there have been very few efforts exploring their use in Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL). In this work we perform a systematic investigation into applying a number of existing sparse training techniques on a variety of DRL agents and environments. Our results corroborate the findings from sparse training in the computer vision domain –sparse networks perform better than dense networks for the same parameter count– in the DRL domain. We provide detailed analyses on how the various components in DRL are affected by the use of sparse networks and conclude by suggesting promising avenues for improving the effectiveness of sparse training methods, as well as for advancing their use in DRL.

# #524
Set Norm and Equivariant Skip Connections: Putting the Deep in Deep Sets

Lily Zhang · Veronica Tozzo · John Higgins · Rajesh Ranganath

Permutation invariant neural networks are a promising tool for predictive modeling of set data. We show, however, that existing architectures struggle to perform well when they are deep. In this work, we mathematically and empirically analyze normalization layers and residual connections in the context of deep permutation invariant neural networks. We develop set norm, a normalization tailored for sets, and introduce the ``clean path principle'' for equivariant residual connections alongside a novel benefit of such connections, the reduction of information loss. Based on our analysis, we propose Deep Sets++ and Set Transformer++, deep models that reach comparable or better performance than their original counterparts on a diverse suite of tasks. We additionally introduce Flow-RBC, a new single-cell dataset and real-world application of permutation invariant prediction. We open-source our data and code here:

# #526
Datamodels: Understanding Predictions with Data and Data with Predictions

Andrew Ilyas · Sung Min (Sam) Park · Logan Engstrom · Guillaume Leclerc · Aleksander Madry

We present a conceptual framework, \emph{datamodeling}, for analyzing the behavior of a model class in terms of the training data. For any fixed ``target'' example $x$, training set $S$, and learning algorithm, a {\em datamodel} is a parameterized function $2^S \to \mathbb{R}$ that for any subset of $S' \subset S$---using only information about which examples of $S$ are contained in $S'$---predicts the outcome of training a model on $S'$ and evaluating on $x$. Despite the complexity of the underlying process being approximated (e.g. end-to-end training and evaluation of deep neural networks), we show that even simple {\em linear} datamodels successfully predict model outputs. We then demonstrate that datamodels give rise to a variety of applications, such as:accurately predicting the effect of dataset counterfactuals; identifying brittle predictions; finding semantically similar examples; quantifying train-test leakage; and embedding data into a well-behaved and feature-rich representation space.

# #528
Revisiting and Advancing Fast Adversarial Training Through The Lens of Bi-Level Optimization

Yihua Zhang · Guanhua Zhang · Prashant Khanduri · Mingyi Hong · Shiyu Chang · Sijia Liu

Adversarial training (AT) is a widely recognized defense mechanism to gain the robustness of deep neural networks against adversarial attacks. It is built on min-max optimization (MMO), where the minimizer (i.e., defender) seeks a robust model to minimize the worst-case training loss in the presence of adversarial examples crafted by the maximizer (i.e., attacker). However, the conventional MMO method makes AT hard to scale. Thus, Fast-AT and other recent algorithms attempt to simplify MMO by replacing its maximization step with the single gradient sign-based attack generation step. Although easy to implement, FAST-AT lacks theoretical guarantees, and its empirical performance is unsatisfactory due to the issue of robust catastrophic overfitting when training with strong adversaries. In this paper, we advance Fast-AT from the fresh perspective of bi-level optimization (BLO). We first show that the commonly-used Fast-AT is equivalent to using a stochastic gradient algorithm to solve a linearized BLO problem involving a sign operation. However, the discrete nature of the sign operation makes it difficult to understand the algorithm performance. Inspired by BLO, we design and analyze a new set of robust training algorithms termed Fast Bi-level AT (Fast-BAT), which effectively defends sign-based projected gradient descent (PGD) attacks without using any gradient sign method or explicit robust regularization. In practice, we show that our method yields substantial robustness improvements over multiple baselines across multiple models and datasets.

# #530
Deep Causal Metric Learning

Xiang Deng · Zhongfei Zhang

Deep metric learning aims to learn distance metrics that measure similarities and dissimilarities between samples. The existing approaches typically focus on designing different hard sample mining or distance margin strategies and then minimize a pair/triplet-based or proxy-based loss over the training data. However, this can lead the model to recklessly learn all the correlated distances found in training data including the spurious distance (e.g., background differences) that is not the distance of interest and can harm the generalization of the learned metric. To address this issue, we study metric learning from a causality perspective and accordingly propose deep causal metric learning (DCML) that pursues the true causality of the distance between samples. DCML is achieved through explicitly learning environment-invariant attention and task-invariant embedding based on causal inference. Extensive experiments on several benchmark datasets demonstrate the superiority of DCML over the existing methods.

# #532
Not All Poisons are Created Equal: Robust Training against Data Poisoning

Yu Yang · Tian Yu Liu · Baharan Mirzasoleiman

Data poisoning causes misclassification of test time target examples, by injecting maliciously crafted samples in the training data. Existing defenses are often effective only against a specific type of targeted attack, significantly degrade the generalization performance, or are prohibitive for standard deep learning pipelines. In this work, we propose an efficient defense mechanism that significantly reduces the success rate of various data poisoning attacks, and provides theoretical guarantees for the performance of the model. Targeted attacks work by adding bounded perturbations to a randomly selected subset of training data to match the targets’ gradient or representation. We show that: (i) under bounded perturbations, only a number of poisons can be optimized to have a gradient that is close enough to that of the target and make the attack successful; (ii) such effective poisons move away from their original class and get isolated in the gradient space; (iii) dropping examples in low-density gradient regions during training can successfully eliminate the effective poisons, and guarantees similar training dynamics to that of training on full data. Our extensive experiments show that our method significantly decreases the success rate of state-of-the-art targeted attacks, including Gradient Matching and Bullseye Polytope, and easily scales to large datasets.

# #534
Learning Symmetric Embeddings for Equivariant World Models

Jung Yeon Park · Ondrej Biza · Linfeng Zhao · Jan-Willem van de Meent · Robin Walters

Incorporating symmetries can lead to highly data-efficient and generalizable models by defining equivalence classes of data samples related by transformations. However, characterizing how transformations act on input data is often difficult, limiting the applicability of equivariant models. We propose learning symmetric embedding networks (SENs) that encode an input space (e.g. images), where we do not know the effect of transformations (e.g. rotations), to a feature space that transforms in a known manner under these operations. This network can be trained end-to-end with an equivariant task network to learn an explicitly symmetric representation. We validate this approach in the context of equivariant transition models with 3 distinct forms of symmetry. Our experiments demonstrate that SENs facilitate the application of equivariant networks to data with complex symmetry representations. Moreover, doing so can yield improvements in accuracy and generalization relative to both fully-equivariant and non-equivariant baselines.

# #536
NISPA: Neuro-Inspired Stability-Plasticity Adaptation for Continual Learning in Sparse Networks

Mustafa Burak Gurbuz · Constantine Dovrolis

The goal of continual learning (CL) is to learn different tasks over time. The main desiderata associated with CL are to maintain performance on older tasks, leverage the latter to improve learning of future tasks, and to introduce minimal overhead in the training process (for instance, to not require a growing model or retraining). We propose the Neuro-Inspired Stability-Plasticity Adaptation (NISPA) architecture that addresses these desiderata through a sparse neural network with fixed density. NISPA forms stable paths to preserve learned knowledge from older tasks. Also, NISPA uses connection rewiring to create new plastic paths that reuse existing knowledge on novel tasks. Our extensive evaluation on EMNIST, FashionMNIST, CIFAR10, and CIFAR100 datasets shows that NISPA significantly outperforms representative state-of-the-art continual learning baselines, and it uses up to ten times fewer learnable parameters compared to baselines. We also make the case that sparsity is an essential ingredient for continual learning. The NISPA code is available at

# #538
Synergy and Symmetry in Deep Learning: Interactions between the Data, Model, and Inference Algorithm

Lechao Xiao · Jeffrey Pennington

Although learning in high dimensions is commonly believed to suffer from the curse of dimensionality, modern machine learning methods often exhibit an astonishing power to tackle a wide range of challenging real-world learning problems without using abundant amounts of data. How exactly these methods break this curse remains a fundamental open question in the theory of deep learning. While previous efforts have investigated this question by studying the data ($\mathcal D$), model ($\mathcal M$), and inference algorithm ($\mathcal I$) as independent modules, in this paper we analyzes the triplet $(\mathcal D, \mathcal M, \mathcal I)$ as an integrated system and identify important synergies that help mitigate the curse of dimensionality. We first study the basic symmetries associated with various learning algorithms ($\mathcal M, \mathcal I$), focusing on four prototypical architectures in deep learning: fully-connected networks, locally-connected networks, and convolutional networks with and without pooling. We find that learning is most efficient when these symmetries are compatible with those of the data distribution and that performance significantly deteriorates when any member of the \dmi triplet is inconsistent or suboptimal.

# #539
Auxiliary Learning with Joint Task and Data Scheduling

Hong Chen · Xin Wang · Chaoyu Guan · Yue Liu · Wenwu Zhu

Existing auxiliary learning approaches only consider the relationships between the target task and the auxiliary tasks, ignoring the fact that data samples within an auxiliary task could contribute differently to the target task, which results in inefficient auxiliary information usage and non-robustness to data noise. In this paper, we propose to learn a joint task and data schedule for auxiliary learning, which captures the importance of different data samples in each auxiliary task to the target task. However, learning such a joint schedule is challenging due to the large number of additional parameters required for the schedule. To tackle the challenge, we propose a joint task and data scheduling (JTDS) model for auxiliary learning. The JTDS model captures the joint task-data importance through a task-data scheduler, which creates a mapping from task, feature and label information to the schedule in a parameter-efficient way. Particularly, we formulate the scheduler and the task learning process as a bi-level optimization problem. In the lower optimization, the task learning model is updated with the scheduled gradient, while in the upper optimization, the task-data scheduler is updated with the implicit gradient. Experimental results show that our JTDS model significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art methods under supervised, semi-supervised and corrupted label settings.

# #537
Large-scale Stochastic Optimization of NDCG Surrogates for Deep Learning with Provable Convergence

Zi-Hao Qiu · Quanqi Hu · Yongjian Zhong · Lijun Zhang · Tianbao Yang

NDCG, namely Normalized Discounted Cumulative Gain, is a widely used ranking metric in information retrieval and machine learning. However, efficient and provable stochastic methods for maximizing NDCG are still lacking, especially for deep models. In this paper, we propose a principled approach to optimize NDCG and its top-$K$ variant. First, we formulate a novel compositional optimization problem for optimizing the NDCG surrogate, and a novel bilevel compositional optimization problem for optimizing the top-$K$ NDCG surrogate. Then, we develop efficient stochastic algorithms with provable convergence guarantees for the non-convex objectives. Different from existing NDCG optimization methods, the per-iteration complexity of our algorithms scales with the mini-batch size instead of the number of total items. To improve the effectiveness for deep learning, we further propose practical strategies by using initial warm-up and stop gradient operator. Experimental results on multiple datasets demonstrate that our methods outperform prior ranking approaches in terms of NDCG. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that stochastic algorithms are proposed to optimize NDCG with a provable convergence guarantee. Our proposed methods are implemented in the LibAUC library at

# #535
Gating Dropout: Communication-efficient Regularization for Sparsely Activated Transformers

Rui Liu · Young Jin Kim · Alexandre Muzio · Hany Hassan

Sparsely activated transformers, such as Mixture of Experts (MoE), have received great interest due to their outrageous scaling capability which enables dramatical increases in model size without significant increases in computational cost. To achieve this, MoE models replace the feedforward sub-layer with Mixture-of-Experts sub-layer in transformers and use a gating network to route each token to its assigned experts. Since the common practice for efficient training of such models requires distributing experts and tokens across different machines, this routing strategy often incurs huge cross-machine communication cost because tokens and their assigned experts likely reside in different machines. In this paper, we propose \emph{Gating Dropout}, which allows tokens to ignore the gating network and stay at their local machines, thus reducing the cross-machine communication. Similar to traditional dropout, we also show that Gating Dropout has a regularization effect during training, resulting in improved generalization performance. We validate the effectiveness of Gating Dropout on multilingual machine translation tasks. Our results demonstrate that Gating Dropout improves a state-of-the-art MoE model with faster wall-clock time convergence rates and better BLEU scores for a variety of model sizes and datasets.

# #533
A New Perspective on the Effects of Spectrum in Graph Neural Networks

Mingqi Yang · Yanming Shen · Rui Li · Heng Qi · Qiang Zhang · Baocai Yin

Many improvements on GNNs can be deemed as operations on the spectrum of the underlying graph matrix, which motivates us to directly study the characteristics of the spectrum and their effects on GNN performance. By generalizing most existing GNN architectures, we show that the correlation issue caused by the unsmooth spectrum becomes the obstacle to leveraging more powerful graph filters as well as developing deep architectures, which therefore restricts GNNs' performance. Inspired by this, we propose the correlation-free architecture which naturally removes the correlation issue among different channels, making it possible to utilize more sophisticated filters within each channel. The final correlation-free architecture with more powerful filters consistently boosts the performance of learning graph representations. Code is available at

# #529
Molecular Representation Learning via Heterogeneous Motif Graph Neural Networks

Zhaoning Yu · Hongyang Gao

We consider feature representation learning problem of molecular graphs. Graph Neural Networks have been widely used in feature representation learning of molecular graphs. However, most existing methods deal with molecular graphs individually while neglecting their connections, such as motif-level relationships. We propose a novel molecular graph representation learning method by constructing a heterogeneous motif graph to address this issue. In particular, we build a heterogeneous motif graph that contains motif nodes and molecular nodes. Each motif node corresponds to a motif extracted from molecules. Then, we propose a Heterogeneous Motif Graph Neural Network (HM-GNN) to learn feature representations for each node in the heterogeneous motif graph. Our heterogeneous motif graph also enables effective multi-task learning, especially for small molecular datasets. To address the potential efficiency issue, we propose to use an edge sampler, which can significantly reduce computational resources usage. The experimental results show that our model consistently outperforms previous state-of-the-art models. Under multi-task settings, the promising performances of our methods on combined datasets shed light on a new learning paradigm for small molecular datasets. Finally, we show that our model achieves similar performances with significantly less computational resources by using our edge sampler.

# #527
Weisfeiler-Lehman Meets Gromov-Wasserstein

Samantha Chen · Sunhyuk Lim · Facundo Memoli · Zhengchao Wan · Yusu Wang

The Weisfeiler-Lehman (WL) test is a classical procedure for graph isomorphism testing. The WL test has also been widely used both for designing graph kernels and for analyzing graph neural networks. In this paper, we propose the Weisfeiler-Lehman (WL) distance, a notion of distance between labeled measure Markov chains (LMMCs), of which labeled graphs are special cases. The WL distance is polynomial time computable and is also compatible with the WL test in the sense that the former is positive if and only if the WL test can distinguish the two involved graphs. The WL distance captures and compares subtle structures of the underlying LMMCs and, as a consequence of this, it is more discriminating than the distance between graphs used for defining the state-of-the-art Wasserstein Weisfeiler-Lehman graph kernel. Inspired by the structure of the WL distance we identify a neural network architecture on LMMCs which turns out to be universal w.r.t. continuous functions defined on the space of all LMMCs (which includes all graphs) endowed with the WL distance. Finally, the WL distance turns out to be stable w.r.t. a natural variant of the Gromov-Wasserstein (GW) distance for comparing metric Markov chains that we identify. Hence, the WL distance can also be construed as a polynomial time lower bound for the GW distance which is in general NP-hard to compute.

# #525
GenLabel: Mixup Relabeling using Generative Models

Jy yong Sohn · Liang Shang · Hongxu Chen · Jaekyun Moon · Dimitris Papailiopoulos · Kangwook Lee

Mixup is a data augmentation method that generates new data points by mixing a pair of input data. While mixup generally improves the prediction performance, it sometimes degrades the performance. In this paper, we first identify the main causes of this phenomenon by theoretically and empirically analyzing the mixup algorithm. To resolve this, we propose GenLabel, a simple yet effective relabeling algorithm designed for mixup. In particular, GenLabel helps the mixup algorithm correctly label mixup samples by learning the class-conditional data distribution using generative models. Via theoretical and empirical analysis, we show that mixup, when used together with GenLabel, can effectively resolve the aforementioned phenomenon, improving the accuracy of mixup-trained model.

# #523
When and How Mixup Improves Calibration

Linjun Zhang · Zhun Deng · Kenji Kawaguchi · James Zou

In many machine learning applications, it is important for the model to provide confidence scores that accurately capture its prediction uncertainty. Although modern learning methods have achieved great success in predictive accuracy, generating calibrated confidence scores remains a major challenge. Mixup, a popular yet simple data augmentation technique based on taking convex combinations of pairs of training examples, has been empirically found to significantly improve confidence calibration across diverse applications. However, when and how Mixup helps calibration is still a mystery. In this paper, we theoretically prove that Mixup improves calibration in \textit{high-dimensional} settings by investigating natural statistical models. Interestingly, the calibration benefit of Mixup increases as the model capacity increases. We support our theories with experiments on common architectures and datasets. In addition, we study how Mixup improves calibration in semi-supervised learning. While incorporating unlabeled data can sometimes make the model less calibrated, adding Mixup training mitigates this issue and provably improves calibration. Our analysis provides new insights and a framework to understand Mixup and calibration.

# #521
On Transportation of Mini-batches: A Hierarchical Approach

Khai Nguyen · Dang Nguyen · Quoc Nguyen · Tung Pham · Hung Bui · Dinh Phung · Trung Le · Nhat Ho

Mini-batch optimal transport (m-OT) has been successfully used in practical applications that involve probability measures with a very high number of supports. The m-OT solves several smaller optimal transport problems and then returns the average of their costs and transportation plans. Despite its scalability advantage, the m-OT does not consider the relationship between mini-batches which leads to undesirable estimation. Moreover, the m-OT does not approximate a proper metric between probability measures since the identity property is not satisfied. To address these problems, we propose a novel mini-batch scheme for optimal transport, named Batch of Mini-batches Optimal Transport (BoMb-OT), that finds the optimal coupling between mini-batches and it can be seen as an approximation to a well-defined distance on the space of probability measures. Furthermore, we show that the m-OT is a limit of the entropic regularized version of the BoMb-OT when the regularized parameter goes to infinity. Finally, we carry out experiments on various applications including deep generative models, deep domain adaptation, approximate Bayesian computation, color transfer, and gradient flow to show that the BoMb-OT can be widely applied and performs well in various applications.

# #519
VariGrow: Variational Architecture Growing for Task-Agnostic Continual Learning based on Bayesian Novelty

Randy Ardywibowo · Zepeng Huo · Zhangyang “Atlas” Wang · Bobak Mortazavi · Shuai Huang · Xiaoning Qian

Continual Learning (CL) is the problem of sequentially learning a set of tasks and preserving all the knowledge acquired. Many existing methods assume that the data stream is explicitly divided into a sequence of known contexts (tasks), and use this information to know when to transfer knowledge from one context to another. Unfortunately, many real-world CL scenarios have no clear task nor context boundaries, motivating the study of task-agnostic CL, where neither the specific tasks nor their switches are known both in training and testing. This paper proposes a variational architecture growing framework dubbed VariGrow. By interpreting dynamically growing neural networks as a Bayesian approximation, and defining flexible implicit variational distributions, VariGrow detects if a new task is arriving through an energy-based novelty score. If the novelty score is high and the sample is detected" as a new task, VariGrow will grow a new expert module to be responsible for it. Otherwise, the sample will be assigned to one of the existing experts who is mostfamiliar" with it (i.e., one with the lowest novelty score). We have tested VariGrow on several CIFAR and ImageNet-based benchmarks for the strict task-agnostic CL setting and demonstrate its consistent superior performance. Perhaps surprisingly, its performance can even be competitive compared to task-aware methods.

# #517
Beyond Images: Label Noise Transition Matrix Estimation for Tasks with Lower-Quality Features

Zhaowei Zhu · Jialu Wang · Yang Liu

The label noise transition matrix, denoting the transition probabilities from clean labels to noisy labels, is crucial for designing statistically robust solutions. Existing estimators for noise transition matrices, e.g., using either anchor points or clusterability, focus on computer vision tasks that are relatively easier to obtain high-quality representations. We observe that tasks with lower-quality features fail to meet the anchor-point or clusterability condition, due to the coexistence of both uninformative and informative representations. To handle this issue, we propose a generic and practical information-theoretic approach to down-weight the less informative parts of the lower-quality features. This improvement is crucial to identifying and estimating the label noise transition matrix. The salient technical challenge is to compute the relevant information-theoretical metrics using only noisy labels instead of clean ones. We prove that the celebrated $f$-mutual information measure can often preserve the order when calculated using noisy labels. We then build our transition matrix estimator using this distilled version of features. The necessity and effectiveness of the proposed method are also demonstrated by evaluating the estimation error on a varied set of tabular data and text classification tasks with lower-quality features. Code is available at

# #515
A Model-Agnostic Randomized Learning Framework based on Random Hypothesis Subspace Sampling

Yiting Cao · Chao Lan

We propose a model-agnostic randomized learning framework based on Random Hypothesis Subspace Sampling (RHSS). Given any hypothesis class, it randomly samples $k$ hypotheses and learns a near-optimal model from their span by simply solving a linear least square problem in $O(n k^2)$ time, where $n$ is the number of training instances. On the theory side, we derive the performance guarantee of RHSS from a generic subspace approximation perspective, leveraging properties of metric entropy and random matrices. On the practical side, we apply the RHSS framework to learn kernel, network and tree based models. Experimental results show they converge efficiently as $k$ increases and outperform their model-specific counterparts including random Fourier feature, random vector functional link and extra tree on real-world data sets.

# #513
Outstanding Paper
Stable Conformal Prediction Sets

Eugene Ndiaye

When one observes a sequence of variables $(x_1, y_1), \ldots, (x_n, y_n)$, Conformal Prediction (CP) is a methodology that allows to estimate a confidence set for $y_{n+1}$ given $x_{n+1}$ by merely assuming that the distribution of the data is exchangeable. CP sets have guaranteed coverage for any finite population size $n$. While appealing, the computation of such a set turns out to be infeasible in general, \eg when the unknown variable $y_{n+1}$ is continuous. The bottleneck is that it is based on a procedure that readjusts a prediction model on data where we replace the unknown target by all its possible values in order to select the most probable one. This requires computing an infinite number of models, which often makes it intractable. In this paper, we combine CP techniques with classical algorithmic stability bounds to derive a prediction set computable with a single model fit. We demonstrate that our proposed confidence set does not lose any coverage guarantees while avoiding the need for data splitting as currently done in the literature. We provide some numerical experiments to illustrate the tightness of our estimation when the sample size is sufficiently large, on both synthetic and real datasets.

# #511
Rethinking Fano’s Inequality in Ensemble Learning

Terufumi Morishita · Gaku Morio · Shota Horiguchi · Hiroaki Ozaki · Nobuo Nukaga

We propose a fundamental theory on ensemble learning that evaluates a given ensemble system by a well-grounded set of metrics.Previous studies used a variant of Fano's inequality of information theory and derived a lower bound of the classification error rate on the basis of the accuracy and diversity of models.We revisit the original Fano's inequality and argue that the studies did not take into account the information lost when multiple model predictions are combined into a final prediction.To address this issue, we generalize the previous theory to incorporate the information loss.Further, we empirically validate and demonstrate the proposed theory through extensive experiments on actual systems.The theory reveals the strengths and weaknesses of systems on each metric, which will push the theoretical understanding of ensemble learning and give us insights into designing systems.

# #509
FITNESS: (Fine Tune on New and Similar Samples) to detect anomalies in streams with drift and outliers

Abishek Sankararaman · Balakrishnan Narayanaswamy · Vikramank Singh · Zhao Song

Technology improvements have made it easier than ever to collect diverse telemetry at high resolution from any cyber or physical system, for both monitoring and control. In the domain of monitoring, anomaly detection has become an important problem in many research areas ranging from IoT and sensor networks to devOps. These systems operate in real, noisy and non-stationary environments. A fundamental question is then, ‘\emph{How to quickly spot anomalies in a data-stream, and differentiate them from either sudden or gradual drifts in the normal behaviour?}’ Although several heuristics have been proposed for detecting anomalies on streams, no known method has formalized the desiderata and rigorously proven that they can be achieved. We begin by formalizing the problem as a sequential estimation task. We propose \name, (\textbf{Fi}ne \textbf{T}une on \textbf{Ne}w and \textbf{S}imilar \textbf{S}amples), a flexible framework for detecting anomalies on data streams. We show that in the case when the data stream has a gaussian distribution, FITNESS is provably both robust and adaptive. The core of our method is to fine-tune the anomaly detection system only on recent, similar examples, before predicting an anomaly score. We prove that this is sufficient for robustness and adaptivity. We further experimentally demonstrate that \name\; is \emph{flexible} in practice, i.e., it can convert existing offline AD algorithms in to robust and adaptive online ones.

# #507
Improving Mini-batch Optimal Transport via Partial Transportation

Khai Nguyen · Dang Nguyen · The-Anh Vu-Le · Tung Pham · Nhat Ho

Mini-batch optimal transport (m-OT) has been widely used recently to deal with the memory issue of OT in large-scale applications. Despite their practicality, m-OT suffers from misspecified mappings, namely, mappings that are optimal on the mini-batch level but are partially wrong in the comparison with the optimal transportation plan between the original measures. Motivated by the misspecified mappings issue, we propose a novel mini-batch method by using partial optimal transport (POT) between mini-batch empirical measures, which we refer to as mini-batch partial optimal transport (m-POT). Leveraging the insight from the partial transportation, we explain the source of misspecified mappings from the m-OT and motivate why limiting the amount of transported masses among mini-batches via POT can alleviate the incorrect mappings. Finally, we carry out extensive experiments on various applications such as deep domain adaptation, partial domain adaptation, deep generative model, color transfer, and gradient flow to demonstrate the favorable performance of m-POT compared to current mini-batch methods.

# #505
Near-optimal rate of consistency for linear models with missing values

Alexis Ayme · Claire Boyer · Aymeric Dieuleveut · Erwan Scornet

Missing values arise in most real-world data sets due to the aggregation of multiple sources and intrinsically missing information (sensor failure, unanswered questions in surveys...). In fact, the very nature of missing values usually prevents us from running standard learning algorithms. In this paper, we focus on the extensively-studied linear models, but in presence of missing values, which turns out to be quite a challenging task. Indeed, the Bayes predictor can be decomposed as a sum of predictors corresponding to each missing pattern. This eventually requires to solve a number of learning tasks, exponential in the number of input features, which makes predictions impossible for current real-world datasets. First, we propose a rigorous setting to analyze a least-square type estimator and establish a bound on the excess risk which increases exponentially in the dimension. Consequently, we leverage the missing data distribution to propose a new algorithm, and derive associated adaptive risk bounds that turn out to be minimax optimal. Numerical experiments highlight the benefits of our method compared to state-of-the-art algorithms used for predictions with missing values.

# #503
Permutation Search of Tensor Network Structures via Local Sampling

Chao Li · Junhua Zeng · Zerui Tao · Qibin Zhao

Recent works put much effort into \emph{tensor network structure search} (TN-SS), aiming to select suitable tensor network (TN) structures, involving the TN-ranks, formats, and so on, for the decomposition or learning tasks. In this paper, we consider a practical variant of TN-SS, dubbed \emph{TN permutation search}~(TN-PS), in which we search for good mappings from tensor modes onto TN vertices (core tensors) for compact TN representations. We conduct a theoretical investigation of TN-PS and propose a practically-efficient algorithm to resolve the problem. Theoretically, we prove the counting and metric properties of search spaces of TN-PS, analyzing for the first time the impact of TN structures on these unique properties. Numerically, we propose a novel \emph{meta-heuristic} algorithm, in which the searching is done by randomly sampling in a neighborhood established in our theory, and then recurrently updating the neighborhood until convergence. Numerical results demonstrate that the new algorithm can reduce the required model size of TNs in extensive benchmarks, implying the improvement in the expressive power of TNs. Furthermore, the computational cost for the new algorithm is significantly less than that in (Li and Sun, 2020).

# #501
Revisiting Label Smoothing and Knowledge Distillation Compatibility: What was Missing?

Keshigeyan Chandrasegaran · Ngoc-Trung Tran · Yunqing Zhao · Ngai-Man Cheung

This work investigates the compatibility between label smoothing (LS) and knowledge distillation (KD). Contemporary findings addressing this thesis statement take dichotomous standpoints: Muller et al. (2019) and Shen et al. (2021b). Critically, there is no effort to understand and resolve these contradictory findings, leaving the primal question − to smooth or not to smooth a teacher network? − unanswered. The main contributions of our work are the discovery, analysis and validation of systematic diffusion as the missing concept which is instrumental in understanding and resolving these contradictory findings. This systematic diffusion essentially curtails the benefits of distilling from an LS-trained teacher, thereby rendering KD at increased temperatures ineffective. Our discovery is comprehensively supported by large-scale experiments, analyses and case studies including image classification, neural machine translation and compact student distillation tasks spanning across multiple datasets and teacher-student architectures. Based on our analysis, we suggest practitioners to use an LS-trained teacher with a low-temperature transfer to achieve high performance students. Code and models are available at

# #600
DNNR: Differential Nearest Neighbors Regression

Youssef Nader · Leon Sixt · Tim Landgraf

K-nearest neighbors (KNN) is one of the earliest and most established algorithms in machine learning. For regression tasks, KNN averages the targets within a neighborhood which poses a number of challenges: the neighborhood definition is crucial for the predictive performance as neighbors might be selected based on uninformative features, and averaging does not account for how the function changes locally. We propose a novel method called Differential Nearest Neighbors Regression (DNNR) that addresses both issues simultaneously: during training, DNNR estimates local gradients to scale the features; during inference, it performs an n-th order Taylor approximation using estimated gradients. In a large-scale evaluation on over 250 datasets, we find that DNNR performs comparably to state-of-the-art gradient boosting methods and MLPs while maintaining the simplicity and transparency of KNN. This allows us to derive theoretical error bounds and inspect failures. In times that call for transparency of ML models, DNNR provides a good balance between performance and interpretability.

# #602
HyperPrompt: Prompt-based Task-Conditioning of Transformers

Yun He · Steven Zheng · Yi Tay · Jai Gupta · Yu Du · Vamsi Aribandi · Zhe Zhao · Yaguang Li · Zhao Chen · Don Metzler · Heng-Tze Cheng · Ed Chi

Prompt-Tuning is a new paradigm for finetuning pre-trained language models in a parameter efficient way. Here, we explore the use of HyperNetworks to generate hyper-prompts: we propose HyperPrompt, a novel architecture for prompt-based task-conditioning of self-attention in Transformers. The hyper-prompts are end-to-end learnable via generation by a HyperNetwork. HyperPrompt allows the network to learn task-specific feature maps where the hyper-prompts serve astask global memories for the queries to attend to, at the same time enabling flexible information sharing among tasks. We show that HyperPrompt is competitive against strong multi-task learning baselines with as few as 0.14% of additional task-conditioning parameters, achieving great parameter and computational efficiency. Through extensive empirical experiments, we demonstrate that HyperPrompt can achieve superior performances over strong T5 multi-task learning baselines and parameter-efficient adapter variants including Prompt-Tuning and HyperFormer++ on Natural Language Understanding benchmarks of GLUE and SuperGLUE across many model sizes.

# #604
Validating Causal Inference Methods

Harsh Parikh · Carlos Varjao · Louise Xu · Eric Tchetgen Tchetgen

The fundamental challenge of drawing causal inference is that counterfactual outcomes are not fully observed for any unit. Furthermore, in observational studies, treatment assignment is likely to be confounded. Many statistical methods have emerged for causal inference under unconfoundedness conditions given pre-treatment covariates, including propensity score-based methods, prognostic score-based methods, and doubly robust methods. Unfortunately for applied researchers, there is no `one-size-fits-all' causal method that can perform optimally universally. In practice, causal methods are primarily evaluated quantitatively on handcrafted simulated data. Such data-generative procedures can be of limited value because they are typically stylized models of reality. They are simplified for tractability and lack the complexities of real-world data. For applied researchers, it is critical to understand how well a method performs for the data at hand. Our work introduces a deep generative model-based framework, Credence, to validate causal inference methods. The framework's novelty stems from its ability to generate synthetic data anchored at the empirical distribution for the observed sample, and therefore virtually indistinguishable from the latter. The approach allows the user to specify ground truth for the form and magnitude of causal effects and confounding bias as functions of covariates. Thus simulated data sets are used to evaluate the potential performance of various causal estimation methods when applied to data similar to the observed sample. We demonstrate Credence's ability to accurately assess the relative performance of causal estimation techniques in an extensive simulation study and two real-world data applications from Lalonde and Project STAR studies.

# #606
The Multivariate Community Hawkes Model for Dependent Relational Events in Continuous-time Networks

Hadeel Soliman · Lingfei Zhao · Zhipeng Huang · Subhadeep Paul · Kevin Xu

The stochastic block model (SBM) is one of the most widely used generative models for network data. Many continuous-time dynamic network models are built upon the same assumption as the SBM: edges or events between all pairs of nodes are conditionally independent given the block or community memberships, which prevents them from reproducing higher-order motifs such as triangles that are commonly observed in real networks. We propose the multivariate community Hawkes (MULCH) model, an extremely flexible community-based model for continuous-time networks that introduces dependence between node pairs using structured multivariate Hawkes processes. We fit the model using a spectral clustering and likelihood-based local refinement procedure. We find that our proposed MULCH model is far more accurate than existing models both for predictive and generative tasks.

# #608
Scalable Deep Gaussian Markov Random Fields for General Graphs

Joel Oskarsson · Per Sidén · Fredrik Lindsten

Machine learning methods on graphs have proven useful in many applications due to their ability to handle generally structured data. The framework of Gaussian Markov Random Fields (GMRFs) provides a principled way to define Gaussian models on graphs by utilizing their sparsity structure. We propose a flexible GMRF model for general graphs built on the multi-layer structure of Deep GMRFs, originally proposed for lattice graphs only. By designing a new type of layer we enable the model to scale to large graphs. The layer is constructed to allow for efficient training using variational inference and existing software frameworks for Graph Neural Networks. For a Gaussian likelihood, close to exact Bayesian inference is available for the latent field. This allows for making predictions with accompanying uncertainty estimates. The usefulness of the proposed model is verified by experiments on a number of synthetic and real world datasets, where it compares favorably to other both Bayesian and deep learning methods.

# #610
Anytime Information Cascade Popularity Prediction via Self-Exciting Processes

Xi Zhang · Akshay Aravamudan · Georgios Anagnostopoulos

One important aspect of understanding behaviors of information cascades is to be able to accurately predict their popularity, that is, their message counts at any future time. Self-exciting Hawkes processes have been widely adopted for such tasks due to their success in describing cascading behaviors. In this paper, for general, marked Hawkes point processes, we present closed-form expressions for the mean and variance of future event counts, conditioned on observed events. Furthermore, these expressions allow us to develop a predictive approach, namely, Cascade Anytime Size Prediction via self-Exciting Regression model (CASPER), which is specifically tailored to popularity prediction, unlike existing generative approaches – based on point processes – for the same task. We showcase CASPER’s merits via experiments entailing both synthetic and real-world data, and demonstrate that it considerably improves upon prior works in terms of accuracy, especially for early-stage prediction.

# #612
Deep Variational Graph Convolutional Recurrent Network for Multivariate Time Series Anomaly Detection

Wenchao Chen · Long Tian · Bo Chen · Liang Dai · Zhibin Duan · Mingyuan Zhou

Anomaly detection within multivariate time series (MTS) is an essential task in both data mining and service quality management. Many recent works on anomaly detection focus on designing unsupervised probabilistic models toextract robust normal patterns of MTS. In this paper, we model sensor dependency and stochasticity within MTS by developing an embedding-guided probabilistic generative network. We combine it with adaptive variational graph convolutional recurrent network %and get variational GCRN (VGCRN) to model both spatial and temporal fine-grained correlations in MTS. To explore hierarchical latent representations, we further extend VGCRN into a deep variational network, which captures multilevel information at different layers and is robust to noisy time series. Moreover, we develop an upward-downward variational inference scheme that considers both forecasting-based and reconstruction-based losses, achieving an accurate posterior approximation of latent variables with better MTS representations. The experiments verify the superiority of the proposed method over current state-of-the-art methods.

# #614
Decomposing Temporal High-Order Interactions via Latent ODEs

Shibo Li · Robert Kirby · Shandian Zhe

High-order interactions between multiple objects are common in real-world applications. Although tensor decomposition is a popular framework for high-order interaction analysis and prediction, most methods cannot well exploit the valuable timestamp information in data. The existent methods either discard the timestamps or convert them into discrete steps or use over-simplistic decomposition models. As a result, these methods might not be capable enough of capturing complex, fine-grained temporal dynamics or making accurate predictions for long-term interaction results. To overcome these limitations, we propose a novel Temporal High-order Interaction decompoSition model based on Ordinary Differential Equations (THIS-ODE). We model the time-varying interaction result with a latent ODE. To capture the complex temporal dynamics, we use a neural network (NN) to learn the time derivative of the ODE state. We use the representation of the interaction objects to model the initial value of the ODE and to constitute a part of the NN input to compute the state. In this way, the temporal relationships of the participant objects can be estimated and encoded into their representations. For tractable and scalable inference, we use forward sensitivity analysis to efficiently compute the gradient of ODE state, based on which we use integral transform to develop a stochastic mini-batch learning algorithm. We demonstrate the advantage of our approach in simulation and four real-world applications.

# #616
Log-Euclidean Signatures for Intrinsic Distances Between Unaligned Datasets

Tal Shnitzer · Mikhail Yurochkin · Kristjan Greenewald · Justin Solomon

The need for efficiently comparing and representing datasets with unknown alignment spans various fields, from model analysis and comparison in machine learning to trend discovery in collections of medical datasets. We use manifold learning to compare the intrinsic geometric structures of different datasets by comparing their diffusion operators, symmetric positive-definite (SPD) matrices that relate to approximations of the continuous Laplace-Beltrami operator from discrete samples. Existing methods typically assume known data alignment and compare such operators in a pointwise manner. Instead, we exploit the Riemannian geometry of SPD matrices to compare these operators and define a new theoretically-motivated distance based on a lower bound of the log-Euclidean metric. Our framework facilitates comparison of data manifolds expressed in datasets with different sizes, numbers of features, and measurement modalities. Our log-Euclidean signature (LES) distance recovers meaningful structural differences, outperforming competing methods in various application domains.

# #618
DRIBO: Robust Deep Reinforcement Learning via Multi-View Information Bottleneck

Jiameng Fan · Wenchao Li

Deep reinforcement learning (DRL) agents are often sensitive to visual changes that were unseen in their training environments. To address this problem, we leverage the sequential nature of RL to learn robust representations that encode only task-relevant information from observations based on the unsupervised multi-view setting. Specif- ically, we introduce a novel contrastive version of the Multi-View Information Bottleneck (MIB) objective for temporal data. We train RL agents from pixels with this auxiliary objective to learn robust representations that can compress away task-irrelevant information and are predictive of task-relevant dynamics. This approach enables us to train high-performance policies that are robust to visual distractions and can generalize well to unseen environments. We demonstrate that our approach can achieve SOTA performance on a di- verse set of visual control tasks in the DeepMind Control Suite when the background is replaced with natural videos. In addition, we show that our approach outperforms well-established base- lines for generalization to unseen environments on the Procgen benchmark. Our code is open- sourced and available at https://github. com/BU-DEPEND-Lab/DRIBO.

# #620
End-to-End Balancing for Causal Continuous Treatment-Effect Estimation

Mohammad Taha Bahadori · Eric Tchetgen Tchetgen · David Heckerman

We study the problem of observational causal inference with continuous treatment. We focus on the challenge of estimating the causal response curve for infrequently-observed treatment values.We design a new algorithm based on the framework of entropy balancing which learns weights that directly maximize causal inference accuracy using end-to-end optimization. Our weights can be customized for different datasets and causal inference algorithms. We propose a new theory for consistency of entropy balancing for continuous treatments. Using synthetic and real-world data, we show that our proposed algorithm outperforms the entropy balancing in terms of causal inference accuracy.

# #622
Role-based Multiplex Network Embedding

Hegui Zhang · Gang Kou

In recent years, multiplex network embedding has received great attention from researchers. However, existing multiplex network embedding methods neglect structural role information, which can be used to determine the structural similarity between nodes. To overcome this shortcoming, this work proposes a simple, effective, role-based embedding method for multiplex networks, called RMNE. The RMNE uses the structural role information of nodes to preserve the structural similarity between nodes in the entire multiplex network. Specifically, a role-modified random walk is designed to generate node sequences of each node, which can capture both the within-layer neighbors, structural role members, and cross-layer structural role members of a node. Additionally, the variant of RMNE extends the existing collaborative embedding method by unifying the structural role information into our method to obtain the role-based node representations. Finally, the proposed methods were evaluated on the network reconstruction, node classification, link prediction, and multi-class edge classification tasks. The experimental results on eight public, real-world multiplex networks demonstrate that the proposed methods outperform state-of-the-art baseline methods.

# #624
Measure Estimation in the Barycentric Coding Model

Matthew Werenski · Ruijie Jiang · Abiy Tasissa · Shuchin Aeron · James Murphy

This paper considers the problem of measure estimation under the barycentric coding model (BCM), in which an unknown measure is assumed to belong to the set of Wasserstein-2 barycenters of a finite set of known measures. Estimating a measure under this model is equivalent to estimating the unknown barycentric coordinates. We provide novel geometrical, statistical, and computational insights for measure estimation under the BCM, consisting of three main results. Our first main result leverages the Riemannian geometry of Wasserstein-2 space to provide a procedure for recovering the barycentric coordinates as the solution to a quadratic optimization problem assuming access to the true reference measures. The essential geometric insight is that the parameters of this quadratic problem are determined by inner products between the optimal displacement maps from the given measure to the reference measures defining the BCM. Our second main result then establishes an algorithm for solving for the coordinates in the BCM when all the measures are observed empirically via i.i.d. samples. We prove precise rates of convergence for this algorithm---determined by the smoothness of the underlying measures and their dimensionality---thereby guaranteeing its statistical consistency. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of the BCM and associated estimation procedures in three application areas: (i) covariance estimation for Gaussian measures; (ii) image processing; and (iii) natural language processing.

# #626
RieszNet and ForestRiesz: Automatic Debiased Machine Learning with Neural Nets and Random Forests

Victor Chernozhukov · Whitney Newey · Víctor Quintas-Martínez · Vasilis Syrgkanis

Many causal and policy effects of interest are defined by linear functionals of high-dimensional or non-parametric regression functions. $\sqrt{n}$-consistent and asymptotically normal estimation of the object of interest requires debiasing to reduce the effects of regularization and/or model selection on the object of interest. Debiasing is typically achieved by adding a correction term to the plug-in estimator of the functional, which leads to properties such as semi-parametric efficiency, double robustness, and Neyman orthogonality. We implement an automatic debiasing procedure based on automatically learning the Riesz representation of the linear functional using Neural Nets and Random Forests. Our method only relies on black-box evaluation oracle access to the linear functional and does not require knowledge of its analytic form. We propose a multitasking Neural Net debiasing method with stochastic gradient descent minimization of a combined Riesz representer and regression loss, while sharing representation layers for the two functions. We also propose a Random Forest method which learns a locally linear representation of the Riesz function. Even though our method applies to arbitrary functionals, we experimentally find that it performs well compared to the state of art neural net based algorithm of Shi et al. (2019) for the case of the average treatment effect functional. We also evaluate our method on the problem of estimating average marginal effects with continuous treatments, using semi-synthetic data of gasoline price changes on gasoline demand.

# #628
Counterfactual Transportability: A Formal Approach

Juan Correa · Sanghack Lee · Elias Bareinboim

Generalizing causal knowledge across environments is a common challenge shared across many of the data-driven disciplines, including AI and ML. Experiments are usually performed in one environment (e.g., in a lab, on Earth, in a training ground), almost invariably, with the intent of being used elsewhere (e.g., outside the lab, on Mars, in the real world), in an environment that is related but somewhat different than the original one, where certain conditions and mechanisms are likely to change. This generalization task has been studied in the causal inference literature under the rubric of transportability (Pearl and Bareinboim, 2011). While most transportability works focused on generalizing associational and interventional distributions, the generalization of counterfactual distributions has not been formally studied. In this paper, we investigate the transportability of counterfactuals from an arbitrary combination of observational and experimental distributions coming from disparate domains. Specifically, we introduce a sufficient and necessary graphical condition and develop an efficient, sound, and complete algorithm for transporting counterfactual quantities across domains in nonparametric settings. Failure of the algorithm implies the impossibility of generalizing the target counterfactual from the available data without further assumptions.

# #630
Identification of Linear Non-Gaussian Latent Hierarchical Structure

Feng Xie · Biwei Huang · Zhengming Chen · Yangbo He · zhi geng · Kun Zhang

Traditional causal discovery methods mainly focus on estimating causal relations among measured variables, but in many real-world problems, such as questionnaire-based psychometric studies, measured variables are generated by latent variables that are causally related. Accordingly, this paper investigates the problem of discovering the hidden causal variables and estimating the causal structure, including both the causal relations among latent variables and those between latent and measured variables. We relax the frequently-used measurement assumption and allow the children of latent variables to be latent as well, and hence deal with a specific type of latent hierarchical causal structure. In particular, we define a minimal latent hierarchical structure and show that for linear non-Gaussian models with the minimal latent hierarchical structure, the whole structure is identifiable from only the measured variables. Moreover, we develop a principled method to identify the structure by testing for Generalized Independent Noise (GIN) conditions in specific ways. Experimental results on both synthetic and real-world data show the effectiveness of the proposed approach.

# #632
COAT: Measuring Object Compositionality in Emergent Representations

Sirui Xie · Ari Morcos · Song-Chun Zhu · Shanmukha Ramakrishna Vedantam

Learning representations that can decompose a multi-object scene into its constituent objects and recompose them flexibly is desirable for object-oriented reasoning and planning. Built upon object masks in the pixel space, existing metricsfor objectness can only evaluate generative models with an object-specific “slot” structure. We propose to directly measure compositionality in the representation space as a form of objections, making such evaluations tractable for a widerclass of models. Our metric, COAT (Compositional Object Algebra Test), evaluates if a generic representation exhibits certain geometric properties that underpin object compositionality beyond what is already captured by the raw pixel space. Our experiments on the popular CLEVR (Johnson, 2018) domain reveal that existing disentanglement-based generative models are not as compositional as one might expect, suggesting room for further modeling improvements. We hope our work allows for a unified evaluation of object-centric representations, spanning generative as well as discriminative, self-supervised models.

# #634
Generalization and Robustness Implications in Object-Centric Learning

Andrea Dittadi · Samuele Papa · Michele De Vita · Bernhard Schölkopf · Ole Winther · Francesco Locatello

The idea behind object-centric representation learning is that natural scenes can better be modeled as compositions of objects and their relations as opposed to distributed representations. This inductive bias can be injected into neural networks to potentially improve systematic generalization and performance of downstream tasks in scenes with multiple objects. In this paper, we train state-of-the-art unsupervised models on five common multi-object datasets and evaluate segmentation metrics and downstream object property prediction. In addition, we study generalization and robustness by investigating the settings where either a single object is out of distribution -- e.g., having an unseen color, texture, or shape -- or global properties of the scene are altered -- e.g., by occlusions, cropping, or increasing the number of objects. From our experimental study, we find object-centric representations to be useful for downstream tasks and generally robust to most distribution shifts affecting objects. However, when the distribution shift affects the input in a less structured manner, robustness in terms of segmentation and downstream task performance may vary significantly across models and distribution shifts.

# #636
NAFS: A Simple yet Tough-to-beat Baseline for Graph Representation Learning

Wentao Zhang · Zeang Sheng · Mingyu Yang · Yang Li · Yu Shen · Zhi Yang · Bin Cui

Recently, graph neural networks (GNNs) have shown prominent performance in graph representation learning by leveraging knowledge from both graph structure and node features. However, most of them have two major limitations. First, GNNs can learn higher-order structural information by stacking more layers but can not deal with large depth due to the over-smoothing issue. Second, it is not easy to apply these methods on large graphs due to the expensive computation cost and high memory usage. In this paper, we present node-adaptive feature smoothing (NAFS), a simple non-parametric method that constructs node representations without parameter learning. NAFS first extracts the features of each node with its neighbors of different hops by feature smoothing, and then adaptively combines the smoothed features. Besides, the constructed node representation can further be enhanced by the ensemble of smoothed features extracted via different smoothing strategies. We conduct experiments on four benchmark datasets on two different application scenarios: node clustering and link prediction. Remarkably, NAFS with feature ensemble outperforms the state-of-the-art GNNs on these tasks and mitigates the aforementioned two limitations of most learning-based GNN counterparts.

# #638
Action-Sufficient State Representation Learning for Control with Structural Constraints

Biwei Huang · Chaochao Lu · Liu Leqi · Jose Miguel Hernandez-Lobato · Clark Glymour · Bernhard Schölkopf · Kun Zhang

Perceived signals in real-world scenarios are usually high-dimensional and noisy, and finding and using their representation that contains essential and sufficient information required by downstream decision-making tasks will help improve computational efficiency and generalization ability in the tasks. In this paper, we focus on partially observable environments and propose to learn a minimal set of state representations that capture sufficient information for decision-making, termed Action-Sufficient state Representations (ASRs). We build a generative environment model for the structural relationships among variables in the system and present a principled way to characterize ASRs based on structural constraints and the goal of maximizing cumulative reward in policy learning. We then develop a structured sequential Variational Auto-Encoder to estimate the environment model and extract ASRs. Our empirical results on CarRacing and VizDoom demonstrate a clear advantage of learning and using ASRs for policy learning. Moreover, the estimated environment model and ASRs allow learning behaviors from imagined outcomes in the compact latent space to improve sample efficiency.

# #639
Gradient Descent on Neurons and its Link to Approximate Second-order Optimization

Frederik Benzing

Second-order optimizers are thought to hold the potential to speed up neural network training, but due to the enormous size of the curvature matrix, they typically require approximations to be computationally tractable. The most successful family of approximations are Kronecker-Factored, block-diagonal curvature estimates (KFAC). Here, we combine tools from prior work to evaluate exact second-order updates with careful ablations to establish a surprising result: Due to its approximations, KFAC is not closely related to second-order updates, and in particular, it significantly outperforms true second-order updates. This challenges widely held believes and immediately raises the question why KFAC performs so well. Towards answering this question we present evidence strongly suggesting that KFAC approximates a first-order algorithm, which performs gradient descent on neurons rather than weights. Finally, we show that this optimizer often improves over KFAC in terms of computational cost and data-efficiency.

# #637
A Tree-based Model Averaging Approach for Personalized Treatment Effect Estimation from Heterogeneous Data Sources

Xiaoqing (Ellen) Tan · Chung-Chou H. Chang · Ling Zhou · Lu Tang

Accurately estimating personalized treatment effects within a study site (e.g., a hospital) has been challenging due to limited sample size. Furthermore, privacy considerations and lack of resources prevent a site from leveraging subject-level data from other sites. We propose a tree-based model averaging approach to improve the estimation accuracy of conditional average treatment effects (CATE) at a target site by leveraging models derived from other potentially heterogeneous sites, without them sharing subject-level data. To our best knowledge, there is no established model averaging approach for distributed data with a focus on improving the estimation of treatment effects. Specifically, under distributed data networks, our framework provides an interpretable tree-based ensemble of CATE estimators that joins models across study sites, while actively modeling the heterogeneity in data sources through site partitioning. The performance of this approach is demonstrated by a real-world study of the causal effects of oxygen therapy on hospital survival rate and backed up by comprehensive simulation results.

# #635
Efficient Online ML API Selection for Multi-Label Classification Tasks

Lingjiao Chen · Matei Zaharia · James Zou

Multi-label classification tasks such as OCR and multi-object recognition are a major focus of the growing machine learning as a service industry. While many multi-label APIs are available, it is challenging for users to decide which API to use for their own data and budget, due to the heterogeneity in their prices and performance. Recent work has shown how to efficiently select and combine single label APIs to optimize performance and cost. However, its computation cost is exponential in the number of labels, and is not suitable for settings like OCR. In this work, we propose FrugalMCT, a principled framework that adaptively selects the APIs to use for different data in an online fashion while respecting the user’s budget. It allows combining ML APIs’ predictions for any single data point, and selects the best combination based on an accuracy estimator. We run systematic experiments using ML APIs from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Tencent, and other providers for tasks including multi-label image classification, scene text recognition, and named entity recognition. Across these tasks, FrugalMCT can achieve over 90% cost reduction while matching the accuracy of the best single API, or up to 8% better accuracy while matching the best API’s cost.

# #633
Entropic Causal Inference: Graph Identifiability

Spencer Compton · Kristjan Greenewald · Dmitriy Katz · Murat Kocaoglu

Entropic causal inference is a recent framework for learning the causal graph between two variables from observational data by finding the information-theoretically simplest structural explanation of the data, i.e., the model with smallest entropy. In our work, we first extend the causal graph identifiability result in the two-variable setting under relaxed assumptions. We then show the first identifiability result using the entropic approach for learning causal graphs with more than two nodes. Our approach utilizes the property that ancestrality between a source node and its descendants can be determined using the bivariate entropic tests. We provide a sound sequential peeling algorithm for general graphs that relies on this property. We also propose a heuristic algorithm for small graphs that shows strong empirical performance. We rigorously evaluate the performance of our algorithms on synthetic data generated from a variety of models, observing improvement over prior work. Finally we test our algorithms on real-world datasets.

# #631
Architecture Agnostic Federated Learning for Neural Networks

Disha Makhija · Xing Han · Nhat Ho · Joydeep Ghosh

With growing concerns regarding data privacy and rapid increase in data volume, Federated Learning (FL) has become an important learning paradigm. However, jointly learning a deep neural network model in a FL setting proves to be a non-trivial task because of the complexities associated with the neural networks, such as varied architectures across clients, permutation invariance of the neurons, and presence of non-linear transformations in each layer. This work introduces a novel framework, Federated Heterogeneous Neural Networks (FedHeNN), that allows each client to build a personalised model without enforcing a common architecture across clients. This allows each client to optimize with respect to local data and compute constraints, while still benefiting from the learnings of other (potentially more powerful) clients. The key idea of FedHeNN is to use the instance-level representations obtained from peer clients to guide the simultaneous training on each client. The extensive experimental results demonstrate that the FedHeNN framework is capable of learning better performing models on clients in both the settings of homogeneous and heterogeneous architectures across clients.

# #629
Conformal Prediction Sets with Limited False Positives

Adam Fisch · Tal Schuster · Tommi Jaakkola · Regina Barzilay

We develop a new approach to multi-label conformal prediction in which we aim to output a precise set of promising prediction candidates with a bounded number of incorrect answers. Standard conformal prediction provides the ability to adapt to model uncertainty by constructing a calibrated candidate set in place of a single prediction, with guarantees that the set contains the correct answer with high probability. In order to obey this coverage property, however, conformal sets can become inundated with noisy candidates---which can render them unhelpful in practice. This is particularly relevant to practical applications where there is a limited budget, and the cost (monetary or otherwise) associated with false positives is non-negligible. We propose to trade coverage for a notion of precision by enforcing that the presence of incorrect candidates in the predicted conformal sets (i.e., the total number of false positives) is bounded according to a user-specified tolerance. Subject to this constraint, our algorithm then optimizes for a generalized notion of set coverage (i.e., the true positive rate) that allows for any number of true answers for a given query (including zero). We demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach across a number of classification tasks in natural language processing, computer vision, and computational chemistry.

# #627
Scalable Computation of Causal Bounds

Madhumitha Shridharan · Garud Iyengar

We consider the problem of computing bounds for causal inference problems with unobserved confounders, where identifiability does not hold. Existing non-parametric approaches for computing such bounds use linear programming (LP) formulations that quickly become intractable for existing solvers because the size of the LP grows exponentially in the number of edges in the underlying causal graph. We show that this LP can be significantly pruned by carefully considering the structure of the causal query, allowing us to compute bounds for significantly larger causal inference problems as compared to what is possible using existing techniques. This pruning procedure also allows us to compute the bounds inclosed form for a special class of causal graphs and queries, which includes a well-studied family of problems where multiple confounded treatments influence an outcome. We also propose a very efficient greedy heuristic that produces very high quality bounds, and scales to problems that are several orders of magnitude larger than those for which the pruned LP can be solved.

# #625
LIDL: Local Intrinsic Dimension Estimation Using Approximate Likelihood

Piotr Tempczyk · Rafał Michaluk · Łukasz Garncarek · Przemysław Spurek · Jacek Tabor · Adam Golinski

Most of the existing methods for estimating the local intrinsic dimension of a data distribution do not scale well to high dimensional data. Many of them rely on a non-parametric nearest neighbours approach which suffers from the curse of dimensionality. We attempt to address that challenge by proposing a novel approach to the problem: Local Intrinsic Dimension estimation using approximate Likelihood (LIDL).Our method relies on an arbitrary density estimation method as its subroutine, and hence tries to sidestep the dimensionality challenge by making use of the recent progress in parametric neural methods for likelihood estimation.We carefully investigate the empirical properties of the proposed method, compare them with our theoretical predictions, show that LIDL yields competitive results on the standard benchmarks for this problem, and that it scales to thousands of dimensions. What is more, we anticipate this approach to improve further with the continuing advances in the density estimation literature.

# #623
Learning Pseudometric-based Action Representations for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Pengjie Gu · Mengchen Zhao · Chen Chen · Dong Li · Jianye Hao · Bo An

Offline reinforcement learning is a promising approach for practical applications since it does not require interactions with real-world environments. However, existing offline RL methods only work well in environments with continuous or small discrete action spaces. In environments with large and discrete action spaces, such as recommender systems and dialogue systems, the performance of existing methods decreases drastically because they suffer from inaccurate value estimation for a large proportion of out-of-distribution (o.o.d.) actions. While recent works have demonstrated that online RL benefits from incorporating semantic information in action representations, unfortunately, they fail to learn reasonable relative distances between action representations, which is key to offline RL to reduce the influence of o.o.d. actions. This paper proposes an action representation learning framework for offline RL based on a pseudometric, which measures both the behavioral relation and the data-distributional relation between actions. We provide theoretical analysis on the continuity of the expected Q-values and the offline policy improvement using the learned action representations. Experimental results show that our methods significantly improve the performance of two typical offline RL methods in environments with large and discrete action spaces.

# #621
A Statistical Manifold Framework for Point Cloud Data

Yonghyeon Lee · Seungyeon Kim · Jinwon Choi · Frank Chongwoo Park

Many problems in machine learning involve data sets in which each data point is a pointcloud in $\mathbb{R}^D$. A growing number of applications require a means of measuringnot only distances between point clouds, but also angles, volumes, derivatives, and othermore advanced concepts. To formulate and quantify these concepts in a coordinate-invariantway, we develop a Riemannian geometric framework for point cloud data. By interpretingeach point in a point cloud as a sample drawn from some given underlying probabilitydensity, the space of point cloud data can be given the structure of a statisticalmanifold -- each point on this manifold represents a point cloud -- with the Fisherinformation metric acting as a natural Riemannian metric. Two autoencoder applicationsof our framework are presented: (i) smoothly deforming one 3D object into another viainterpolation between the two corresponding point clouds; (ii) learning an optimal setof latent space coordinates for point cloud data that best preserves angles anddistances, and thus produces a more discriminative representation space. Experimentswith large-scale standard benchmark point cloud data show greatly improvedclassification accuracy vis-\'{a}-vis existing methods. Code is available at

# #619
HyperImpute: Generalized Iterative Imputation with Automatic Model Selection

Daniel Jarrett · Bogdan Cebere · Tennison Liu · Alicia Curth · Mihaela van der Schaar

Consider the problem of imputing missing values in a dataset. One the one hand, conventional approaches using iterative imputation benefit from the simplicity and customizability of learning conditional distributions directly, but suffer from the practical requirement for appropriate model specification of each and every variable. On the other hand, recent methods using deep generative modeling benefit from the capacity and efficiency of learning with neural network function approximators, but are often difficult to optimize and rely on stronger data assumptions. In this work, we study an approach that marries the advantages of both: We propose HyperImpute, a generalized iterative imputation framework for adaptively and automatically configuring column-wise models and their hyperparameters. Practically, we provide a concrete implementation with out-of-the-box learners, optimizers, simulators, and extensible interfaces. Empirically, we investigate this framework via comprehensive experiments and sensitivities on a variety of public datasets, and demonstrate its ability to generate accurate imputations relative to a strong suite of benchmarks. Contrary to recent work, we believe our findings constitute a strong defense of the iterative imputation paradigm.

# #617
Partial Label Learning via Label Influence Function

Xiuwen Gong · Dong Yuan · Wei Bao

To deal with ambiguities in partial label learning (PLL), state-of-the-art strategies implement disambiguations by identifying the ground-truth label directly from the candidate label set. However, these approaches usually take the label that incurs a minimal loss as the ground-truth label or use the weight to represent which label has a high likelihood to be the ground-truth label. Little work has been done to investigate from the perspective of how a candidate label changing a predictive model. In this paper, inspired by influence function, we develop a novel PLL framework called Partial Label Learning via Label Influence Function (PLL-IF). Moreover, we implement the framework with two specific representative models, an SVM model and a neural network model, which are called PLL-IF+SVM and PLL-IF+NN method respectively. Extensive experiments conducted on various datasets demonstrate the superiorities of the proposed methods in terms of prediction accuracy, which in turn validates the effectiveness of the proposed PLL-IF framework.

# #615
Minimax Classification under Concept Drift with Multidimensional Adaptation and Performance Guarantees

Verónica Álvarez · Santiago Mazuelas · Jose A Lozano

The statistical characteristics of instance-label pairs often change with time in practical scenarios of supervised classification. Conventional learning techniques adapt to such concept drift accounting for a scalar rate of change by means of a carefully chosen learning rate, forgetting factor, or window size. However, the time changes in common scenarios are multidimensional, i.e., different statistical characteristics often change in a different manner. This paper presents adaptive minimax risk classifiers (AMRCs) that account for multidimensional time changes by means of a multivariate and high-order tracking of the time-varying underlying distribution. In addition, differently from conventional techniques, AMRCs can provide computable tight performance guarantees. Experiments on multiple benchmark datasets show the classification improvement of AMRCs compared to the state-of-the-art and the reliability of the presented performance guarantees.

# #613
Understanding Robust Overfitting of Adversarial Training and Beyond

Chaojian Yu · Bo Han · Li Shen · Jun Yu · Chen Gong · Mingming Gong · Tongliang Liu

Robust overfitting widely exists in adversarial training of deep networks. The exact underlying reasons for this are still not completely understood. Here, we explore the causes of robust overfitting by comparing the data distribution of non-overfit (weak adversary) and overfitted (strong adversary) adversarial training, and observe that the distribution of the adversarial data generated by weak adversary mainly contain small-loss data. However, the adversarial data generated by strong adversary is more diversely distributed on the large-loss data and the small-loss data. Given these observations, we further designed data ablation adversarial training and identify that some small-loss data which are not worthy of the adversary strength cause robust overfitting in the strong adversary mode. To relieve this issue, we propose minimum loss constrained adversarial training (MLCAT): in a minibatch, we learn large-loss data as usual, and adopt additional measures to increase the loss of the small-loss data. Technically, MLCAT hinders data fitting when they become easy to learn to prevent robust overfitting; philosophically, MLCAT reflects the spirit of turning waste into treasure and making the best use of each adversarial data; algorithmically, we designed two realizations of MLCAT, and extensive experiments demonstrate that MLCAT can eliminate robust overfitting and further boost adversarial robustness.

# #611
A Random Matrix Analysis of Data Stream Clustering: Coping With Limited Memory Resources

Hugo Lebeau · Romain Couillet · Florent Chatelain

This article introduces a random matrix framework for the analysis of clustering on high-dimensional data streams, a particularly relevant setting for a more sober processing of large amounts of data with limited memory and energy resources. Assuming data $\mathbf{x}_1, \mathbf{x}_2, \ldots$ arrives as a continuous flow and a small number $L$ of them can be kept in the learning pipeline, one has only access to the diagonal elements of the Gram kernel matrix: $\left[ \mathbf{K}_L \right]_{i, j} = \frac{1}{p} \mathbf{x}_i^\top \mathbf{x}_j \mathbf{1}_{\left\lvert i - j \right\rvert < L}$. Under a large-dimensional data regime, we derive the limiting spectral distribution of the banded kernel matrix $\mathbf{K}_L$ and study its isolated eigenvalues and eigenvectors, which behave in an unfamiliar way. We detail how these results can be used to perform efficient online kernel spectral clustering and provide theoretical performance guarantees. Our findings are empirically confirmed on image clustering tasks. Leveraging on optimality results of spectral methods for clustering, this work offers insights on efficient online clustering techniques for high-dimensional data.

# #609
Hierarchical Shrinkage: Improving the accuracy and interpretability of tree-based models.

Abhineet Agarwal · Yan Shuo Tan · Omer Ronen · Chandan Singh · Bin Yu

Decision trees and random forests (RF) are a cornerstone of modern machine learning practice. Due to their tendency to overfit, trees are typically regularized by a variety of techniques that modify their structure (e.g. pruning). We introduce Hierarchical Shrinkage (HS), a post-hoc algorithm which regularizes the tree not by altering its structure, but by shrinking the prediction over each leaf toward the sample means over each of its ancestors, with weights depending on a single regularization parameter and the number of samples in each ancestor. Since HS is a post-hoc method, it is extremely fast, compatible with any tree-growing algorithm and can be used synergistically with other regularization techniques. Extensive experiments over a wide variety of real-world datasets show that HS substantially increases the predictive performance of decision trees even when used in conjunction with other regularization techniques. Moreover, we find that applying HS to individual trees in a RF often improves its accuracy and interpretability by simplifying and stabilizing decision boundaries and SHAP values. We further explain HS by showing that it to be equivalent to ridge regression on a basis that is constructed of decision stumps associated to the internal nodes of a tree. All code and models are released in a full-fledged package available on Github

# #607
Supervised Learning with General Risk Functionals

Liu Leqi · Audrey Huang · Zachary Lipton · Kamyar Azizzadenesheli

Standard uniform convergence results bound the generalization gap of the expected loss over a hypothesis class. The emergence of risk-sensitive learning requires generalization guarantees for functionals of the loss distribution beyond the expectation. While prior works specialize in uniform convergence of particular functionals, our work provides uniform convergence for a general class of H\"older risk functionals for which the closeness in the Cumulative Distribution Function (CDF) entails closeness in risk. We establish the first uniform convergence results for estimating the CDF of the loss distribution, which yield uniform convergence guarantees that hold simultaneously both over a class of H\"older risk functionals and over a hypothesis class. Thus licensed to perform empirical risk minimization, we develop practical gradient-based methods for minimizing distortion risks (widely studied subset of H\"older risks that subsumes the spectral risks, including the mean, conditional value at risk, cumulative prospect theory risks, and others) and provide convergence guarantees. In experiments, we demonstrate the efficacy of our learning procedure, both in settings where uniform convergence results hold and in high-dimensional settings with deep networks.

# #605
Adapting to Mixing Time in Stochastic Optimization with Markovian Data

Ron Dorfman · Kfir Levy

We consider stochastic optimization problems where data is drawn from a Markov chain. Existing methods for this setting crucially rely on knowing the mixing time of the chain, which in real-world applications is usually unknown. We propose the first optimization method that does not require the knowledge of the mixing time, yet obtains the optimal asymptotic convergence rate when applied to convex problems. We further show that our approach can be extended to: (i) finding stationary points in non-convex optimization with Markovian data, and (ii) obtaining better dependence on the mixing time in temporal difference (TD) learning; in both cases, our method is completely oblivious to the mixing time. Our method relies on a novel combination of multi-level Monte Carlo (MLMC) gradient estimation together with an adaptive learning method.

# #603
Fast Composite Optimization and Statistical Recovery in Federated Learning

Yajie Bao · Michael Crawshaw · Shan Luo · Mingrui Liu

As a prevalent distributed learning paradigm, Federated Learning (FL) trains a global model on a massive amount of devices with infrequent communication. This paper investigates a class of composite optimization and statistical recovery problems in the FL setting, whose loss function consists of a data-dependent smooth loss and a non-smooth regularizer. Examples include sparse linear regression using Lasso, low-rank matrix recovery using nuclear norm regularization, etc. In the existing literature, federated composite optimization algorithms are designed only from an optimization perspective without any statistical guarantees. In addition, they do not consider commonly used (restricted) strong convexity in statistical recovery problems. We advance the frontiers of this problem from both optimization and statistical perspectives. From optimization upfront, we propose a new algorithm named \textit{Fast Federated Dual Averaging} for strongly convex and smooth loss and establish state-of-the-art iteration and communication complexity in the composite setting. In particular, we prove that it enjoys a fast rate, linear speedup, and reduced communication rounds. From statistical upfront, for restricted strongly convex and smooth loss, we design another algorithm, namely \textit{Multi-stage Federated Dual Averaging}, and prove a high probability complexity bound with linear speedup up to optimal statistical precision. Numerical experiments in both synthetic and real data demonstrate that our methods perform better than other baselines. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work providing fast optimization algorithms and statistical recovery guarantees for composite problems in FL.

# #601
Beyond Worst-Case Analysis in Stochastic Approximation: Moment Estimation Improves Instance Complexity

Jingzhao Zhang · Hongzhou Lin · Subhro Das · Suvrit Sra · Ali Jadbabaie

We study oracle complexity of gradient based methods for stochastic approximation problems. Though in many settings optimal algorithms and tight lower bounds are known for such problems, these optimal algorithms do not achieve the best performance when used in practice. We address this theory-practice gap by focusing on \emph{instance-dependent complexity} instead of worst case complexity. In particular, we first summarize known instance-dependent complexity results and categorize them into three levels. We identify the domination relation between different levels and propose a fourth instance-dependent bound that dominates existing ones. We then provide a sufficient condition according to which an adaptive algorithm with moment estimation can achieve the proposed bound without knowledge of noise levels. Our proposed algorithm and its analysis provide a theoretical justification for the success of moment estimation as it achieves improved instance complexity.

# #700
Personalization Improves Privacy-Accuracy Tradeoffs in Federated Learning

Alberto Bietti · Chen-Yu Wei · Miroslav Dudik · John Langford · Steven Wu

Large-scale machine learning systems often involve data distributed across a collection of users. Federated learning algorithms leverage this structure by communicating model updates to a central server, rather than entire datasets. In this paper, we study stochastic optimization algorithms for a personalized federated learning setting involving local and global models subject to user-level (joint) differential privacy. While learning a private global model induces a cost of privacy, local learning is perfectly private. We provide generalization guarantees showing that coordinating local learning with private centralized learning yields a generically useful and improved tradeoff between accuracy and privacy. We illustrate our theoretical results with experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets.

# #702
Optimal Algorithms for Stochastic Multi-Level Compositional Optimization

Wei Jiang · Bokun Wang · Yibo Wang · Lijun Zhang · Tianbao Yang

In this paper, we investigate the problem of stochastic multi-level compositional optimization, where the objective function is a composition of multiple smooth but possibly non-convex functions. Existing methods for solving this problem either suffer from sub-optimal sample complexities or need a huge batch size. To address this limitation, we propose a Stochastic Multi-level Variance Reduction method (SMVR), which achieves the optimal sample complexity of $\mathcal{O}\left(1 / \epsilon^{3}\right)$ to find an $\epsilon$-stationary point for non-convex objectives. Furthermore, when the objective function satisfies the convexity or Polyak-Łojasiewicz (PL) condition, we propose a stage-wise variant of SMVR and improve the sample complexity to $\mathcal{O}\left(1 / \epsilon^{2}\right)$ for convex functions or $\mathcal{O}\left(1 /(\mu\epsilon)\right)$ for non-convex functions satisfying the $\mu$-PL condition. The latter result implies the same complexity for $\mu$-strongly convex functions. To make use of adaptive learning rates, we also develop Adaptive SMVR, which achieves the same optimal complexities but converges faster in practice. All our complexities match the lower bounds not only in terms of $\epsilon$ but also in terms of $\mu$ (for PL or strongly convex functions), without using a large batch size in each iteration.

# #704
Finite-Sum Coupled Compositional Stochastic Optimization: Theory and Applications

Bokun Wang · Tianbao Yang

This paper studies stochastic optimization for a sum of compositional functions, where the inner-level function of each summand is coupled with the corresponding summation index. We refer to this family of problems as finite-sum coupled compositional optimization (FCCO). It has broad applications in machine learning for optimizing non-convex or convex compositional measures/objectives such as average precision (AP), p-norm push, listwise ranking losses, neighborhood component analysis (NCA), deep survival analysis, deep latent variable models, etc., which deserves finer analysis. Yet, existing algorithms and analyses are restricted in one or other aspects. The contribution of this paper is to provide a comprehensive convergence analysis of a simple stochastic algorithm for both non-convex and convex objectives. Our key result is the improved oracle complexity with the parallel speed-up by using the moving-average based estimator with mini-batching. Our theoretical analysis also exhibits new insights for improving the practical implementation by sampling the batches of equal size for the outer and inner levels. Numerical experiments on AP maximization, NCA, and p-norm push corroborate some aspects of the theory.

# #706
Towards Noise-adaptive, Problem-adaptive (Accelerated) Stochastic Gradient Descent

Sharan Vaswani · Benjamin Dubois-Taine · Reza Babanezhad

We aim to make stochastic gradient descent (SGD) adaptive to (i) the noise $\sigma^2$ in the stochastic gradients and (ii) problem-dependent constants. When minimizing smooth, strongly-convex functions with condition number $\kappa$, we prove that $T$ iterations of SGD with exponentially decreasing step-sizes and knowledge of the smoothness can achieve an $\tilde{O} \left(\exp \left( \nicefrac{-T}{\kappa} \right) + \nicefrac{\sigma^2}{T} \right)$ rate, without knowing $\sigma^2$. In order to be adaptive to the smoothness, we use a stochastic line-search (SLS) and show (via upper and lower-bounds) that SGD with SLS converges at the desired rate, but only to a neighbourhood of the solution. On the other hand, we prove that SGD with an offline estimate of the smoothness converges to the minimizer. However, its rate is slowed down proportional to the estimation error. Next, we prove that SGD with Nesterov acceleration and exponential step-sizes (referred to as ASGD) can achieve the near-optimal $\tilde{O} \left(\exp \left( \nicefrac{-T}{\sqrt{\kappa}} \right) + \nicefrac{\sigma^2}{T} \right)$ rate, without knowledge of $\sigma^2$. When used with offline estimates of the smoothness and strong-convexity, ASGD still converges to the solution, albeit at a slower rate. Finally, we empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of exponential step-sizes coupled with a novel variant of SLS.

# #708
Statistical inference with implicit SGD: proximal Robbins-Monro vs. Polyak-Ruppert

Yoonhyung Lee · Sungdong Lee · Joong-Ho (Johann) Won

The implicit stochastic gradient descent (ISGD), a proximal version of SGD, is gaining interest in the literature due to its stability over (explicit) SGD. In this paper, we conduct an in-depth analysis of the two modes of ISGD for smooth convex functions, namely proximal Robbins-Monro (proxRM) and proximal Poylak-Ruppert (proxPR) procedures, for their use in statistical inference on model parameters. Specifically, we derive non-asymptotic point estimation error bounds of both proxRM and proxPR iterates and their limiting distributions, and propose on-line estimators of their asymptotic covariance matrices that require only a single run of ISGD. The latter estimators are used to construct valid confidence intervals for the model parameters. Our analysis is free of the generalized linear model assumption that has limited the preceding analyses, and employs feasible procedures. Our on-line covariance matrix estimators appear to be the first of this kind in the ISGD literature.

# #710
ProxSkip: Yes! Local Gradient Steps Provably Lead to Communication Acceleration! Finally!

Konstantin Mishchenko · Grigory Malinovsky · Sebastian Stich · Peter Richtarik

We introduce ProxSkip---a surprisingly simple and provably efficient method for minimizing the sum of a smooth ($f$) and an expensive nonsmooth proximable ($\psi$) function. The canonical approach to solving such problems is via the proximal gradient descent (ProxGD) algorithm, which is based on the evaluation of the gradient of $f$ and the prox operator of $\psi$ in each iteration. In this work we are specifically interested in the regime in which the evaluation of prox is costly relative to the evaluation of the gradient, which is the case in many applications. ProxSkip allows for the expensive prox operator to be skipped in most iterations: while its iteration complexity is $\mathcal{O}(\kappa \log \nicefrac{1}{\varepsilon})$, where $\kappa$ is the condition number of $f$, the number of prox evaluations is $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{\kappa} \log \nicefrac{1}{\varepsilon})$ only. Our main motivation comes from federated learning, where evaluation of the gradient operator corresponds to taking a local GD step independently on all devices, and evaluation of prox corresponds to (expensive) communication in the form of gradient averaging. In this context, ProxSkip offers an effective {\em acceleration} of communication complexity. Unlike other local gradient-type methods, such as FedAvg, SCAFFOLD, S-Local-GD and FedLin, whose theoretical communication complexity is worse than, or at best matching, that of vanilla GD in the heterogeneous data regime, we obtain a provable and large improvement without any heterogeneity-bounding assumptions.

# #712
Communication-Efficient Adaptive Federated Learning

Yujia Wang · Lu Lin · Jinghui Chen

Federated learning is a machine learning training paradigm that enables clients to jointly train models without sharing their own localized data. However, the implementation of federated learning in practice still faces numerous challenges, such as the large communication overhead due to the repetitive server-client synchronization and the lack of adaptivity by SGD-based model updates. Despite that various methods have been proposed for reducing the communication cost by gradient compression or quantization, and the federated versions of adaptive optimizers such as FedAdam are proposed to add more adaptivity, the current federated learning framework still cannot solve the aforementioned challenges all at once. In this paper, we propose a novel communication-efficient adaptive federated learning method (FedCAMS) with theoretical convergence guarantees. We show that in the nonconvex stochastic optimization setting, our proposed FedCAMS achieves the same convergence rate of $O(\frac{1}{\sqrt{TKm}})$ as its non-compressed counterparts. Extensive experiments on various benchmarks verify our theoretical analysis.

# #714
RECAPP: Crafting a More Efficient Catalyst for Convex Optimization

Yair Carmon · Arun Jambulapati · Yujia Jin · Aaron Sidford

The accelerated proximal point method (APPA), also known as "Catalyst", is a well-established reduction from convex optimization to approximate proximal point computation (i.e., regularized minimization). This reduction is conceptually elegant and yields strong convergence rate guarantees. However, these rates feature an extraneous logarithmic term arising from the need to compute each proximal point to high accuracy. In this work, we propose a novel Relaxed Error Criterion for Accelerated Proximal Point (RECAPP) that eliminates the need for high accuracy subproblem solutions. We apply RECAPP to two canonical problems: finite-sum and max-structured minimization. For finite-sum problems, we match the best known complexity, previously obtained by carefully-designed problem-specific algorithms. For minimizing max_y f(x,y) where f is convex in x and strongly-concave in y, we improve on the best known (Catalyst-based) bound by a logarithmic factor.

# #716
Kill a Bird with Two Stones: Closing the Convergence Gaps in Non-Strongly Convex Optimization by Directly Accelerated SVRG with Double Compensation and Snapshots

Yuanyuan Liu · Fanhua Shang · Weixin An · Hongying Liu · Zhouchen Lin

Recently, some accelerated stochastic variance reduction algorithms such as Katyusha and ASVRG-ADMM achieve faster convergence than non-accelerated methods such as SVRG and SVRG-ADMM. However, there are still some gaps between the oracle complexities and their lower bounds. To fill in these gaps, this paper proposes a novel Directly Accelerated stochastic Variance reductIon (DAVIS) algorithm with two Snapshots for non-strongly convex (non-SC) unconstrained problems. Our theoretical results show that DAVIS achieves the optimal convergence rate O(1/(nS^2)) and optimal gradient complexity O(n+\sqrt{nL/\epsilon}), which is identical to its lower bound. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first directly accelerated algorithm that attains the optimal lower bound and improves the convergence rate from O(1/S^2) to O(1/(nS^2)). Moreover, we extend DAVIS and theoretical results to non-SC problems with a structured regularizer, and prove that the proposed algorithm with double-snapshots also attains the optimal convergence rate O(1/(nS)) and optimal oracle complexity O(n+L/\epsilon) for such problems, and it is at least a factor n/S faster than existing accelerated stochastic algorithms, where n\gg S in general.

# #718
Accelerated Federated Learning with Decoupled Adaptive Optimization

Jiayin Jin · Jiaxiang Ren · Yang Zhou · Lingjuan Lyu · Ji Liu · Dejing Dou

The federated learning (FL) framework enables edge clients to collaboratively learn a shared inference model while keeping privacy of training data on clients. Recently, many heuristics efforts have been made to generalize centralized adaptive optimization methods, such as SGDM, Adam, AdaGrad, etc., to federated settings for improving convergence and accuracy. However, there is still a paucity of theoretical principles on where to and how to design and utilize adaptive optimization methods in federated settings. This work aims to develop novel adaptive optimization methods for FL from the perspective of dynamics of ordinary differential equations (ODEs). First, an analytic framework is established to build a connection between federated optimization methods and decompositions of ODEs of corresponding centralized optimizers. Second, based on this analytic framework, a momentum decoupling adaptive optimization method, FedDA, is developed to fully utilize the global momentum on each local iteration and accelerate the training convergence. Last but not least, full batch gradients are utilized to mimic centralized optimization in the end of the training process to ensure the convergence and overcome the possible inconsistency caused by adaptive optimization methods.

# #720
Byzantine Machine Learning Made Easy By Resilient Averaging of Momentums

Sadegh Farhadkhani · Rachid Guerraoui · Nirupam Gupta · Rafael Pinot · John Stephan

Byzantine resilience emerged as a prominent topic within the distributed machine learning community.Essentially, the goal is to enhance distributed optimization algorithms, such as distributed SGD, in a way that guarantees convergence despite the presence of some misbehaving (a.k.a., {\em Byzantine}) workers. Although a myriad of techniques addressing the problem have been proposed, the field arguably rests on fragile foundations. These techniques are hard to prove correct and rely on assumptions that are (a) quite unrealistic, i.e., often violated in practice, and (b) heterogeneous, i.e., making it difficult to compare approaches. We present \emph{RESAM (RESilient Averaging of Momentums)}, a unified framework that makes it simple to establish optimal Byzantine resilience, relying only on standard machine learning assumptions. Our framework is mainly composed of two operators: \emph{resilient averaging} at the server and \emph{distributed momentum} at the workers. We prove a general theorem stating the convergence of distributed SGD under RESAM. Interestingly, demonstrating and comparing the convergence of many existing techniques become direct corollaries of our theorem, without resorting to stringent assumptions. We also present an empirical evaluation of the practical relevance of RESAM.

# #722
TSPipe: Learn from Teacher Faster with Pipelines

Hwijoon Lim · Yechan Kim · Sukmin Yun · Jinwoo Shin · Dongsu Han

The teacher-student (TS) framework, training a (student) network by utilizing an auxiliary superior (teacher) network, has been adopted as a popular training paradigm in many machine learning schemes, since the seminal work---Knowledge distillation (KD) for model compression and transfer learning. Many recent self-supervised learning (SSL) schemes also adopt the TS framework, where teacher networks are maintained as the moving average of student networks, called the momentum networks. This paper presents TSPipe, a pipelined approach to accelerate the training process of any TS frameworks including KD and SSL. Under the observation that the teacher network does not need a backward pass, our main idea is to schedule the computation of the teacher and student network separately, and fully utilize the GPU during training by interleaving the computations of the two networks and relaxing their dependencies. In case the teacher network requires a momentum update, we use delayed parameter updates only on the teacher network to attain high model accuracy. Compared to existing pipeline parallelism schemes, which sacrifice either training throughput or model accuracy, TSPipe provides better performance trade-offs, achieving up to 12.15x higher throughput.

# #724
Personalized Federated Learning through Local Memorization

Othmane Marfoq · Giovanni Neglia · Richard Vidal · Laetitia Kameni

Federated learning allows clients to collaboratively learn statistical models while keeping their data local. Federated learning was originally used to train a unique global model to be served to all clients, but this approach might be sub-optimal when clients' local data distributions are heterogeneous. In order to tackle this limitation, recent personalized federated learning methods train a separate model for each client while still leveraging the knowledge available at other clients. In this work, we exploit the ability of deep neural networks to extract high quality vectorial representations (embeddings) from non-tabular data, e.g., images and text, to propose a personalization mechanism based on local memorization. Personalization is obtained by interpolating a collectively trained global model with a local $k$-nearest neighbors (kNN) model based on the shared representation provided by the global model. We provide generalization bounds for the proposed approach in the case of binary classification, and we show on a suite of federated datasets that this approach achieves significantly higher accuracy and fairness than state-of-the-art methods.

# #726
Three-stage Evolution and Fast Equilibrium for SGD with Non-degerate Critical Points

Yi Wang · Zhiren Wang

We justify the fast equilibrium conjecture on stochastic gradient descent from (Li et al. 2020) under the assumptions that critical points are non-degenerate and the stochastic noise is a standard Gaussian. In this case, we prove an SGD with constant effective learning rate consists of three stages: descent, diffusion and tunneling, and explicitly identify temporary equilibrium states in the normalized parameter space that can be observed within practical training time. This interprets the gap between the mixing time in the fast equilibrium conjecture and the previously known upper bound. While our assumptions do not represent typical implementations of SGD of neural networks in practice, this is the first description of the three-stage mechanism in any case. The main finding in this mechanism is that a temporary equilibrium of local nature is quickly achieved after polynomial time (in term of the reciprocal of the intrinsic learning rate) and then stabilizes within observable time scales; and that the temporary equilibrium is in general different from the global Gibbs equilibrium, which will only appear after an exponentially long period beyond typical training limits. Our experiments support that this mechanism may extend to the general case.

# #728
Optimization-Derived Learning with Essential Convergence Analysis of Training and Hyper-training

Risheng Liu · Xuan Liu · Shangzhi Zeng · Jin Zhang · Yixuan ZHANG

Recently, Optimization-Derived Learning (ODL) has attracted attention from learning and vision areas, which designs learning models from the perspective of optimization. However, previous ODL approaches regard the training and hyper-training procedures as two separated stages, meaning that the hyper-training variables have to be fixed during the training process, and thus it is also impossible to simultaneously obtain the convergence of training and hyper-training variables. In this work, we design a Generalized Krasnoselskii-Mann (GKM) scheme based on fixed-point iterations as our fundamental ODL module, which unifies existing ODL methods as special cases. Under the GKM scheme, a Bilevel Meta Optimization (BMO) algorithmic framework is constructed to solve the optimal training and hyper-training variables together. We rigorously prove the essential joint convergence of the fixed-point iteration for training and the process of optimizing hyper-parameters for hyper-training, both on the approximation quality, and on the stationary analysis. Experiments demonstrate the efficiency of BMO with competitive performance on sparse coding and real-world applications such as image deconvolution and rain streak removal.

# #732
Generalizing Gaussian Smoothing for Random Search

Katelyn Gao · Ozan Sener

Gaussian smoothing (GS) is a derivative-free optimization (DFO) algorithm that estimates the gradient of an objective using perturbations of the current parameters sampled from a standard normal distribution. We generalize it to sampling perturbations from a larger family of distributions. Based on an analysis of DFO for non-convex functions, we propose to choose a distribution for perturbations that minimizes the mean squared error (MSE) of the gradient estimate. We derive three such distributions with provably smaller MSE than Gaussian smoothing. We conduct evaluations of the three sampling distributions on linear regression, reinforcement learning, and DFO benchmarks in order to validate our claims. Our proposal improves on GS with the same computational complexity, and are competitive with and usually outperform Guided ES and Orthogonal ES, two computationally more expensive algorithms that adapt the covariance matrix of normally distributed perturbations.

# #734
A General Recipe for Likelihood-free Bayesian Optimization

Jiaming Song · Lantao Yu · Willie Neiswanger · Stefano Ermon

The acquisition function, a critical component in Bayesian optimization (BO), can often be written as the expectation of a utility function under a surrogate model. However, to ensure that acquisition functions are tractable to optimize, restrictions must be placed on the surrogate model and utility function. To extend BO to a broader class of models and utilities, we propose likelihood-free BO (LFBO), an approach based on likelihood-free inference. LFBO directly models the acquisition function without having to separately perform inference with a probabilistic surrogate model. We show that computing the acquisition function in LFBO can be reduced to optimizing a weighted classification problem, which extends an existing likelihood-free density ratio estimation method related to probability of improvement (PI). By choosing the utility function for expected improvement (EI), LFBO outperforms the aforementioned method, as well as various state-of-the-art black-box optimization methods on several real-world optimization problems. LFBO can also leverage composite structures of the objective function, which further improves its regret by several orders of magnitude.

# #736
Constrained Discrete Black-Box Optimization using Mixed-Integer Programming

Theodore Papalexopoulos · Christian Tjandraatmadja · Ross Anderson · Juan Pablo Vielma · David Belanger

Discrete black-box optimization problems are challenging for model-based optimization (MBO) algorithms, such as Bayesian optimization, due to the size of the search space and the need to satisfy combinatorial constraints. In particular, these methods require repeatedly solving a complex discrete global optimization problem in the inner loop, where popular heuristic inner-loop solvers introduce approximations and are difficult to adapt to combinatorial constraints. In response, we propose NN+MILP, a general discrete MBO framework using piecewise-linear neural networks as surrogate models and mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) to optimize the acquisition function. MILP provides optimality guarantees and a versatile declarative language for domain-specific constraints. We test our approach on a range of unconstrained and constrained problems, including DNA binding, constrained binary quadratic problems from the MINLPLib benchmark, and the NAS-Bench-101 neural architecture search benchmark. NN+MILP surpasses or matches the performance of black-box algorithms tailored to the constraints at hand, with global optimization of the acquisition problem running in a few minutes using only standard software packages and hardware.

# #738
Risk-Averse No-Regret Learning in Online Convex Games

Zifan Wang · Yi Shen · Michael Zavlanos

We consider an online stochastic game with risk-averse agents whose goal is to learn optimal decisions that minimize the risk of incurring significantly high costs. Specifically, we use the Conditional Value at Risk (CVaR) as a risk measure that the agents can estimate using bandit feedback in the form of the cost values of only their selected actions.Since the distributions of the cost functions depend on the actions of all agents that are generally unobservable, they are themselves unknown and, therefore, the CVaR values of the costs are difficult to compute.To address this challenge, we propose a new online risk-averse learning algorithm that relies on one-point zeroth-order estimation of the CVaR gradients computed using CVaR values that are estimated by appropriately sampling the cost functions.We show that this algorithm achieves sub-linear regret with high probability. We also propose two variants of this algorithm that improve performance. The first variant relies on a new sampling strategy that uses samples from the previous iteration to improve the estimation accuracy of the CVaR values. The second variant employs residual feedback that uses CVaR values from the previous iteration to reduce the variance of the CVaR gradient estimates. We theoretically analyze the convergence properties of these variants and illustrate their performance on an online market problem that we model as a Cournot game.

# #739
Improve Single-Point Zeroth-Order Optimization Using High-Pass and Low-Pass Filters

Xin Chen · Yujie Tang · Na Li

Single-point zeroth-order optimization (SZO) is useful in solving online black-box optimization and control problems in time-varying environments, as it queries the function value only once at each time step. However, the vanilla SZO method is known to suffer from a large estimation variance and slow convergence, which seriously limits its practical application. In this work, we borrow the idea of high-pass and low-pass filters from extremum seeking control (continuous-time version of SZO) and develop a novel SZO method called HLF-SZO by integrating these filters. It turns out that the high-pass filter coincides with the residual feedback method, and the low-pass filter can be interpreted as the momentum method. As a result, the proposed HLF-SZO achieves a much smaller variance and much faster convergence than the vanilla SZO method, and empirically outperforms the residual-feedback SZO method, which are verified via extensive numerical experiments.

# #737
Robust Multi-Objective Bayesian Optimization Under Input Noise

Samuel Daulton · Sait Cakmak · Maximilian Balandat · Michael A Osborne · Enlu Zhou · Eytan Bakshy

Bayesian optimization (BO) is a sample-efficient approach for tuning design parameters to optimize expensive-to-evaluate, black-box performance metrics. In many manufacturing processes, the design parameters are subject to random input noise, resulting in a product that is often less performant than expected. Although BO methods have been proposed for optimizing a single objective under input noise, no existing method addresses the practical scenario where there are multiple objectives that are sensitive to input perturbations. In this work, we propose the first multi-objective BO method that is robust to input noise. We formalize our goal as optimizing the multivariate value-at-risk (MVaR), a risk measure of the uncertain objectives. Since directly optimizing MVaR is computationally infeasible in many settings, we propose a scalable, theoretically-grounded approach for optimizing MVaR using random scalarizations. Empirically, we find that our approach significantly outperforms alternative methods and efficiently identifies optimal robust designs that will satisfy specifications across multiple metrics with high probability.

# #735
Gradient-Free Method for Heavily Constrained Nonconvex Optimization

Wanli Shi · Hongchang Gao · Bin Gu

Zeroth-order (ZO) method has been shown to be a powerful method for solving the optimization problem where explicit expression of the gradients is difficult or infeasible to obtain. Recently, due to the practical value of the constrained problems, a lot of ZO Frank-Wolfe or projected ZO methods have been proposed. However, in many applications, we may have a very large number of nonconvex white/black-box constraints, which makes the existing zeroth-order methods extremely inefficient (or even not working) since they need to inquire function value of all the constraints and project the solution to the complicated feasible set. In this paper, to solve the nonconvex problem with a large number of white/black-box constraints, we proposed a doubly stochastic zeroth-order gradient method (DSZOG) with momentum method and adaptive step size. Theoretically, we prove DSZOG can converge to the $\epsilon$-stationary point of the constrained problem. Experimental results in two applications demonstrate the superiority of our method in terms of training time and accuracy compared with other ZO methods for the constrained problem.

# #733
Sequential- and Parallel- Constrained Max-value Entropy Search via Information Lower Bound

Shion Takeno · Tomoyuki Tamura · Kazuki Shitara · Masayuki Karasuyama

Max-value entropy search (MES) is one of the state-of-the-art approaches in Bayesian optimization (BO). In this paper, we propose a novel variant of MES for constrained problems, called Constrained MES via Information lower BOund (CMES-IBO), that is based on a Monte Carlo (MC) estimator of a lower bound of a mutual information (MI). Unlike existing studies, our MI is defined so that uncertainty with respect to feasibility can be incorporated. We derive a lower bound of the MI that guarantees non-negativity, while a constrained counterpart of conventional MES can be negative. We further provide theoretical analysis that assures the low-variability of our estimator which has never been investigated for any existing information-theoretic BO. Moreover, using the conditional MI, we extend CMES-IBO to the parallel setting while maintaining the desirable properties. We demonstrate the effectiveness of CMES-IBO by several benchmark functions and real-world problems.

# #731
The power of first-order smooth optimization for black-box non-smooth problems

Alexander Gasnikov · Anton Novitskii · Vasilii Novitskii · Farshed Abdukhakimov · Dmitry Kamzolov · Aleksandr Beznosikov · Martin Takac · Pavel Dvurechenskii · Bin Gu

Gradient-free/zeroth-order methods for black-box convex optimization have been extensively studied in the last decade with the main focus on oracle calls complexity. In this paper, besides the oracle complexity, we focus also on iteration complexity, and propose a generic approach that, based on optimal first-order methods, allows to obtain in a black-box fashion new zeroth-order algorithms for non-smooth convex optimization problems. Our approach not only leads to optimal oracle complexity, but also allows to obtain iteration complexity similar to first-order methods, which, in turn, allows to exploit parallel computations to accelerate the convergence of our algorithms. We also elaborate on extensions for stochastic optimization problems, saddle-point problems, and distributed optimization.

# #729
How Tempering Fixes Data Augmentation in Bayesian Neural Networks

Gregor Bachmann · Lorenzo Noci · Thomas Hofmann

While Bayesian neural networks (BNNs) provide a sound and principled alternative to standard neural networks, an artificial sharpening of the posterior usually needs to be applied to reach comparable performance. This is in stark contrast to theory, dictating that given an adequate prior and a well-specified model, the untempered Bayesian posterior should achieve optimal performance. Despite the community's extensive efforts, the observed gains in performance still remain disputed with several plausible causes pointing at its origin. While data augmentation has been empirically recognized as one of the main drivers of this effect, a theoretical account of its role, on the other hand, is largely missing. In this work we identify two interlaced factors concurrently influencing the strength of the cold posterior effect, namely the correlated nature of augmentations and the degree of invariance of the employed model to such transformations. By theoretically analyzing simplified settings, we prove that tempering implicitly reduces the misspecification arising from modeling augmentations as i.i.d. data. The temperature mimics the role of the effective sample size, reflecting the gain in information provided by the augmentations. We corroborate our theoretical findings with extensive empirical evaluations, scaling to realistic BNNs. By relying on the framework of group convolutions, we experiment with models of varying inherent degree of invariance, confirming its hypothesized relationship with the optimal temperature.

# #727
Surrogate Likelihoods for Variational Annealed Importance Sampling

Martin Jankowiak · Du Phan

Variational inference is a powerful paradigm for approximate Bayesian inference with a number of appealing properties, including support for model learning and data subsampling. By contrast MCMC methods like Hamiltonian Monte Carlo do not share these properties but remain attractive since, contrary to parametric methods, MCMC is asymptotically unbiased. For these reasons researchers have sought to combine the strengths of both classes of algorithms, with recent approaches coming closer to realizing this vision in practice. However, supporting data subsampling in these hybrid methods can be a challenge, a shortcoming that we address by introducing a surrogate likelihood that can be learned jointly with other variational parameters. We argue theoretically that the resulting algorithm allows an intuitive trade-off between inference fidelity and computational cost. In an extensive empirical comparison we show that our method performs well in practice and that it is well-suited for black-box inference in probabilistic programming frameworks.

# #725
Nonparametric Sparse Tensor Factorization with Hierarchical Gamma Processes

Conor Tillinghast · Zheng Wang · Shandian Zhe

We propose a nonparametric factorization approach for sparsely observed tensors. The sparsity does not mean zero-valued entries are massive or dominated. Rather, it implies the observed entries are very few, and even fewer with the growth of the tensor; this is ubiquitous in practice. Compared with the existent works, our model not only leverages the structural information underlying the observed entry indices, but also provides extra interpretability and flexibility — it can simultaneously estimate a set of location factors about the intrinsic properties of the tensor nodes, and another set of sociability factors reflecting their extrovert activity in interacting with others; users are free to choose a trade-off between the two types of factors. Specifically, we use hierarchical Gamma processes and Poisson random measures to construct a tensor-valued process, which can freely sample the two types of factors to generate tensors and always guarantees an asymptotic sparsity. We then normalize the tensor process to obtain hierarchical Dirichlet processes to sample each observed entry index, and use a Gaussian process to sample the entry value as a nonlinear function of the factors, so as to capture both the sparse structure properties and complex node relationships. For efficient inference, we use Dirichlet process properties over finite sample partitions, density transformations, and random features to develop a stochastic variational estimation algorithm. We demonstrate the advantage of our method in several benchmark datasets.

# #723
Fat–Tailed Variational Inference with Anisotropic Tail Adaptive Flows

Feynman Liang · Michael Mahoney · Liam Hodgkinson

While fat-tailed densities commonly arise as posterior and marginal distributions in robust models and scale mixtures, they present a problematic scenario when Gaussian-based variational inference fails to accurately capture tail decay. We first improve previous theory on tails of Lipschitz flows by quantifying how they affect the rate of tail decay and expanding the theory to non-Lipschitz polynomial flows. Next, we develop an alternative theory for multivariate tail parameters which is sensitive to tail-anisotropy. In doing so, we unveil a fundamental problem which plagues many existing flow-based methods: they can only model tail-isotropic distributions (i.e., distributions having the same tail parameter in every direction). To mitigate this and enable modeling of tail-anisotropic targets, we propose anisotropic tail-adaptive flows (ATAF). Experimental results confirm ATAF on both synthetic and real-world targets is competitive with prior work while also exhibiting appropriate tail-anisotropy.

# #721
Variational Sparse Coding with Learned Thresholding

Kion Fallah · Christopher Rozell

Sparse coding strategies have been lauded for their parsimonious representations of data that leverage low dimensional structure. However, inference of these codes typically relies on an optimization procedure with poor computational scaling in high-dimensional problems. For example, sparse inference in the representations learned in the high-dimensional intermediary layers of deep neural networks (DNNs) requires an iterative minimization to be performed at each training step. As such, recent, quick methods in variational inference have been proposed to infer sparse codes by learning a distribution over the codes with a DNN. In this work, we propose a new approach to variational sparse coding that allows us to learn sparse distributions by thresholding samples, avoiding the use of problematic relaxations. We first evaluate and analyze our method by training a linear generator, showing that it has superior performance, statistical efficiency, and gradient estimation compared to other sparse distributions. We then compare to a standard variational autoencoder using a DNN generator on the CelebA dataset.

# #719
Structured Stochastic Gradient MCMC

Antonios Alexos · Alex Boyd · Stephan Mandt

Stochastic gradient Markov Chain Monte Carlo (SGMCMC) is a scalable algorithm for asymptotically exact Bayesian inference in parameter-rich models, such as Bayesian neural networks. However, since mixing can be slow in high dimensions, practitioners often resort to variational inference (VI). Unfortunately, VI makes strong assumptions on both the factorization and functional form of the posterior. To relax these assumptions, this work proposes a new non-parametric variational inference scheme that combines ideas from both SGMCMC and coordinate-ascent VI. The approach relies on a new Langevin-type algorithm that operates on a "self-averaged" posterior energy function, where parts of the latent variables are averaged over samples from earlier iterations of the Markov chain. This way, statistical dependencies between coordinates can be broken in a controlled way, allowing the chain to mix faster. This scheme can be further modified in a "dropout" manner, leading to even more scalability. We test our scheme for ResNet-20 on CIFAR-10, SVHN, and FMNIST. In all cases, we find improvements in convergence speed and/or final accuracy compared to SGMCMC and parametric VI.

# #717
BAMDT: Bayesian Additive Semi-Multivariate Decision Trees for Nonparametric Regression

Zhao Tang Luo · Huiyan Sang · Bani Mallick

Bayesian additive regression trees (BART; Chipman et al., 2010) have gained great popularity as a flexible nonparametric function estimation and modeling tool. Nearly all existing BART models rely on decision tree weak learners with axis-parallel univariate split rules to partition the Euclidean feature space into rectangular regions. In practice, however, many regression problems involve features with multivariate structures (e.g., spatial locations) possibly lying in a manifold, where rectangular partitions may fail to respect irregular intrinsic geometry and boundary constraints of the structured feature space. In this paper, we develop a new class of Bayesian additive multivariate decision tree models that combine univariate split rules for handling possibly high dimensional features without known multivariate structures and novel multivariate split rules for features with multivariate structures in each weak learner. The proposed multivariate split rules are built upon stochastic predictive spanning tree bipartition models on reference knots, which are capable of achieving highly flexible nonlinear decision boundaries on manifold feature spaces while enabling efficient dimension reduction computations. We demonstrate the superior performance of the proposed method using simulation data and a Sacramento housing price data set.

# #715
Variational Inference with Locally Enhanced Bounds for Hierarchical Models

Tomas Geffner · Justin Domke

Hierarchical models represent a challenging setting for inference algorithms. MCMC methods struggle to scale to large models with many local variables and observations, and variational inference (VI) may fail to provide accurate approximations due to the use of simple variational families. Some variational methods (e.g. importance weighted VI) integrate Monte Carlo methods to give better accuracy, but these tend to be unsuitable for hierarchical models, as they do not allow for subsampling and their performance tends to degrade for high dimensional models. We propose a new family of variational bounds for hierarchical models, based on the application of tightening methods (e.g. importance weighting) separately for each group of local random variables. We show that our approach naturally allows the use of subsampling to get unbiased gradients, and that it fully leverages the power of methods that build tighter lower bounds by applying them independently in lower dimensional spaces, leading to better results and more accurate posterior approximations than relevant baselines.

# #713
Centroid Approximation for Bootstrap: Improving Particle Quality at Inference

Mao Ye · Qiang Liu

Bootstrap is a principled and powerful frequentist statistical tool for uncertainty quantification. Unfortunately, standard bootstrap methods are computationally intensive due to the need of drawing a large i.i.d. bootstrap sample to approximate the ideal bootstrap distribution; this largely hinders their application in large-scale machine learning, especially deep learning problems. In this work, we propose an efficient method to explicitly \emph{optimize} a small set of high quality ``centroid'' points to better approximate the ideal bootstrap distribution. We achieve this by minimizing a simple objective function that is asymptotically equivalent to the Wasserstein distance to the ideal bootstrap distribution. This allows us to provide an accurate estimation of uncertainty with a small number of bootstrap centroids, outperforming the naive i.i.d. sampling approach. Empirically, we show that our method can boost the performance of bootstrap in a variety of applications.

# #711
Deep Reference Priors: What is the best way to pretrain a model?

Yansong Gao · Rahul Ramesh · Pratik Chaudhari

What is the best way to exploit extra data -- be it unlabeled data from the same task, or labeled data from a related task -- to learn a given task? This paper formalizes the question using the theory of reference priors. Reference priors are objective, uninformative Bayesian priors that maximize the mutual information between the task and the weights of the model. Such priors enable the task to maximally affect the Bayesian posterior, e.g., reference priors depend upon the number of samples available for learning the task and for very small sample sizes, the prior puts more probability mass on low-complexity models in the hypothesis space. This paper presents the first demonstration of reference priors for medium-scale deep networks and image-based data. We develop generalizations of reference priors and demonstrate applications to two problems. First, by using unlabeled data to compute the reference prior, we develop new Bayesian semi-supervised learning methods that remain effective even with very few samples per class. Second, by using labeled data from the source task to compute the reference prior, we develop a new pretraining method for transfer learning that allows data from the target task to maximally affect the Bayesian posterior. Empirical validation of these methods is conducted on image classification datasets. Code is available at

# #707
Bayesian Continuous-Time Tucker Decomposition

Shikai Fang · Akil Narayan · Robert Kirby · Shandian Zhe

Tensor decomposition is a dominant framework for multiway data analysis and prediction. Although practical data often contains timestamps for the observed entries, existing tensor decomposition approaches overlook or under-use this valuable time information. They either drop the timestamps or bin them into crude steps and hence ignore the temporal dynamics within each step or use simple parametric time coefficients. To overcome these limitations, we propose Bayesian Continuous-Time Tucker Decomposition. We model the tensor-core of the classical Tucker decomposition as a time-varying function, and place a Gaussian process prior to flexibly estimate all kinds of temporal dynamics. In this way, our model maintains the interpretability while is flexible enough to capture various complex temporal relationships between the tensor nodes. For efficient and high-quality posterior inference, we use the stochastic differential equation (SDE) representation of temporal GPs to build an equivalent state-space prior, which avoids huge kernel matrix computation and sparse/low-rank approximations. We then use Kalman filtering, RTS smoothing, and conditional moment matching to develop a scalable message passing inference algorithm. We show the advantage of our method in simulation and several real-world applications.

# #705
Approximate Bayesian Computation with Domain Expert in the Loop

Ayush Bharti · Louis Filstroff · Samuel Kaski

Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) is a popular likelihood-free inference method for models with intractable likelihood functions. As ABC methods usually rely on comparing summary statistics of observed and simulated data, the choice of the statistics is crucial. This choice involves a trade-off between loss of information and dimensionality reduction, and is often determined based on domain knowledge. However, handcrafting and selecting suitable statistics is a laborious task involving multiple trial-and-error steps. In this work, we introduce an active learning method for ABC statistics selection which reduces the domain expert's work considerably. By involving the experts, we are able to handle misspecified models, unlike the existing dimension reduction methods. Moreover, empirical results show better posterior estimates than with existing methods, when the simulation budget is limited.

# #703
Discrete Probabilistic Inverse Optimal Transport

Wei-Ting Chiu · Pei Wang · Patrick Shafto

Inverse Optimal Transport (IOT) studies the problem of inferring the underlying cost that gives rise to an observation on coupling two probability measures. Couplings appear as the outcome of matching sets (e.g. dating) and moving distributions (e.g. transportation). Compared to Optimal transport (OT), the mathematical theory of IOT is undeveloped. We formalize and systematically analyze the properties of IOT using tools from the study of entropy-regularized OT. Theoretical contributions include characterization of the manifold of cross-ratio equivalent costs, the implications of model priors, and derivation of an MCMC sampler. Empirical contributions include visualizations of cross-ratio equivalent effect on basic examples, simulations validating theoretical results and experiments on real world data.

# #701
Easy Variational Inference for Categorical Models via an Independent Binary Approximation

Michael Wojnowicz · Shuchin Aeron · Eric Miller · Michael Hughes

We pursue tractable Bayesian analysis of generalized linear models (GLMs) for categorical data. GLMs have been difficult to scale to more than a few dozen categories due to non-conjugacy or strong posterior dependencies when using conjugate auxiliary variable methods. We define a new class of GLMs for categorical data called categorical-from-binary (CB) models. Each CB model has a likelihood that is bounded by the product of binary likelihoods, suggesting a natural posterior approximation. This approximation makes inference straightforward and fast; using well-known auxiliary variables for probit or logistic regression, the product of binary models admits conjugate closed-form variational inference that is embarrassingly parallel across categories and invariant to category ordering. Moreover, an independent binary model simultaneously approximates multiple CB models. Bayesian model averaging over these can improve the quality of the approximation for any given dataset. We show that our approach scales to thousands of categories, outperforming posterior estimation competitors like Automatic Differentiation Variational Inference (ADVI) and No U-Turn Sampling (NUTS) in the time required to achieve fixed prediction quality.

# #800
Streaming Inference for Infinite Feature Models

Rylan Schaeffer · Yilun Du · Gabrielle K Liu · Ila R. Fiete

Unsupervised learning from a continuous stream of data is arguably one of the most common and most challenging problems facing intelligent agents. One class of unsupervised models, collectively termed \textit{feature models}, attempts unsupervised discovery of latent features underlying the data and includes common models such as PCA, ICA, and NMF. However, if the data arrives in a continuous stream, determining the number of features is a significant challenge and the number may grow with time. In this work, we make feature models significantly more applicable to streaming data by imbuing them with the ability to create new features, online, in a probabilistic and principled manner. To achieve this, we derive a novel recursive form of the Indian Buffet Process, which we term the \textit{Recursive IBP} (R-IBP). We demonstrate that R-IBP can be be used as a prior for feature models to efficiently infer a posterior over an unbounded number of latent features, with quasilinear average time complexity and logarithmic average space complexity. We compare R-IBP to existing offline sampling and variational baselines in two feature models (Linear Gaussian and Factor Analysis) and demonstrate on synthetic and real data that R-IBP achieves comparable or better performance in significantly less time.

# #802
Optimizing Sequential Experimental Design with Deep Reinforcement Learning

Tom Blau · Edwin V Bonilla · Iadine Chades · Amir Dezfouli

Bayesian approaches developed to solve the optimal design of sequential experiments are mathematically elegant but computationally challenging. Recently, techniques using amortization have been proposed to make these Bayesian approaches practical, by training a parameterized policy that proposes designs efficiently at deployment time. However, these methods may not sufficiently explore the design space, require access to a differentiable probabilistic model and can only optimize over continuous design spaces. Here, we address these limitations by showing that the problem of optimizing policies can be reduced to solving a Markov decision process (MDP). We solve the equivalent MDP with modern deep reinforcement learning techniques. Our experiments show that our approach is also computationally efficient at deployment time and exhibits state-of-the-art performance on both continuous and discrete design spaces, even when the probabilistic model is a black box.

# #804
Function-space Inference with Sparse Implicit Processes

Simon R Santana · Bryan Zaldivar · Daniel Hernandez-Lobato

Implicit Processes (IPs) represent a flexible framework that can be used to describe a wide variety of models, from Bayesian neural networks, neural samplers and data generators to many others. IPs also allow for approximate inference in function-space. This change of formulation solves intrinsic degenerate problems of parameter-space approximate inference concerning the high number of parameters and their strong dependencies in large models. For this, previous works in the literature have attempted to employ IPs both to set up the prior and to approximate the resulting posterior. However, this has proven to be a challenging task. Existing methods that can tune the prior IP result in a Gaussian predictive distribution, which fails to capture important data patterns. By contrast, methods producing flexible predictive distributions by using another IP to approximate the posterior process cannot tune the prior IP to the observed data. We propose here the first method that can accomplish both goals. For this, we rely on an inducing-point representation of the prior IP, as often done in the context of sparse Gaussian processes. The result is a scalable method for approximate inference with IPs that can tune the prior IP parameters to the data, and that provides accurate non-Gaussian predictive distributions.

# #806
Variational Inference for Infinitely Deep Neural Networks

Achille Nazaret · David Blei

We introduce the unbounded depth neural network (UDN), an infinitely deep probabilistic model that adapts its complexity to the training data. The UDN contains an infinite sequence of hidden layers and places an unbounded prior on a truncation L, the layer from which it produces its data. Given a dataset of observations, the posterior UDN provides a conditional distribution of both the parameters of the infinite neural network and its truncation. We develop a novel variational inference algorithm to approximate this posterior, optimizing a distribution of the neural network weights and of the truncation depth L, and without any upper limit on L. To this end, the variational family has a special structure: it models neural network weights of arbitrary depth, and it dynamically creates or removes free variational parameters as its distribution of the truncation is optimized. (Unlike heuristic approaches to model search, it is solely through gradient-based optimization that this algorithm explores the space of truncations.) We study the UDN on real and synthetic data. We find that the UDN adapts its posterior depth to the dataset complexity; it outperforms standard neural networks of similar computational complexity; and it outperforms other approaches to infinite-depth neural networks.

# #808
Personalized Federated Learning via Variational Bayesian Inference

Xu Zhang · Yinchuan Li · Wenpeng Li · Kaiyang Guo · Yunfeng Shao

Federated learning faces huge challenges from model overfitting due to the lack of data and statistical diversity among clients. To address these challenges, this paper proposes a novel personalized federated learning method via Bayesian variational inference named pFedBayes. To alleviate the overfitting, weight uncertainty is introduced to neural networks for clients and the server. To achieve personalization, each client updates its local distribution parameters by balancing its construction error over private data and its KL divergence with global distribution from the server. Theoretical analysis gives an upper bound of averaged generalization error and illustrates that the convergence rate of the generalization error is minimax optimal up to a logarithmic factor. Experiments show that the proposed method outperforms other advanced personalized methods on personalized models, e.g., pFedBayes respectively outperforms other SOTA algorithms by 1.25%, 0.42% and 11.71% on MNIST, FMNIST and CIFAR-10 under non-i.i.d. limited data.

# #810
Wide Bayesian neural networks have a simple weight posterior: theory and accelerated sampling

Jiri Hron · Roman Novak · Jeffrey Pennington · Jascha Sohl-Dickstein

We introduce repriorisation, a data-dependent reparameterisation which transforms a Bayesian neural network (BNN) posterior to a distribution whose KL divergence to the BNN prior vanishes as layer widths grow. The repriorisation map acts directly on parameters, and its analytic simplicity complements the known neural network Gaussian process (NNGP) behaviour of wide BNNs in function space. Exploiting the repriorisation, we develop a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) posterior sampling algorithm which mixes faster the wider the BNN. This contrasts with the typically poor performance of MCMC in high dimensions. We observe up to 50x higher effective sample size relative to no reparametrisation for both fully-connected and residual networks. Improvements are achieved at all widths, with the margin between reparametrised and standard BNNs growing with layer width.

# #812
Bayesian Deep Embedding Topic Meta-Learner

Zhibin Duan · Yishi Xu · Jianqiao Sun · Bo Chen · Wenchao Chen · CHAOJIE WANG · Mingyuan Zhou

Existing deep topic models are effective in capturing the latent semantic structures in textual data but usually rely on a plethora of documents. This is less than satisfactory in practical applications when only a limited amount of data is available. In this paper, we propose a novel framework that efficiently solves the problem of topic modeling under the small data regime. Specifically, the framework involves two innovations: a bi-level generative model that aims to exploit the task information to guide the document generation, and a topic meta-learner that strives to learn a group of global topic embeddings so that fast adaptation to the task-specific topic embeddings can be achieved with a few examples. We apply the proposed framework to a hierarchical embedded topic model and achieve better performance than various baseline models on diverse experiments, including few-shot topic discovery and few-shot document classification.

# #814
Efficient Approximate Inference for Stationary Kernel on Frequency Domain

Yohan Jung · Kyungwoo Song · Jinkyoo Park

Based on the Fourier duality between a stationary kernel and its spectral density, modeling the spectral density using a Gaussian mixture density enables one to construct a flexible kernel, known as a Spectral Mixture kernel, that can model any stationary kernel. However, despite its expressive power, training this kernel is typically difficult because scalability and overfitting issues often arise due to a large number of training parameters. To resolve these issues, we propose an approximate inference method for estimating the Spectral mixture kernel hyperparameters. Specifically, we approximate this kernel by using the finite random spectral points based on Random Fourier Feature and optimize the parameters for the distribution of spectral points by sampling-based variational inference. To improve this inference procedure, we analyze the training loss and propose two special methods: a sampling method of spectral points to reduce the error of the approximate kernel in training, and an approximate natural gradient to accelerate the convergence of parameter inference.

# #816
Modeling Strong and Human-Like Gameplay with KL-Regularized Search

Athul Paul Jacob · David Wu · Gabriele Farina · Adam Lerer · Hengyuan Hu · Anton Bakhtin · Jacob Andreas · Noam Brown

We consider the task of accurately modeling strong human policies in multi-agent decision-making problems, given examples of human behavior. Imitation learning is effective at predicting human actions but may not match the strength of expert humans (e.g., by sometimes committing blunders), while self-play learning and search techniques such as AlphaZero lead to strong performance but may produce policies that differ markedly from human behavior. In chess and Go, we show that regularized search algorithms that penalize KL divergence from an imitation-learned policy yield higher prediction accuracy of strong humans and better performance than imitation learning alone. We then introduce a novel regret minimization algorithm that is regularized based on the KL divergence from an imitation-learned policy, and show that using this algorithm for search in no-press Diplomacy yields a policy that matches the human prediction accuracy of imitation learning while being substantially stronger.

# #818
Showing Your Offline Reinforcement Learning Work: Online Evaluation Budget Matters

Vladislav Kurenkov · Sergey Kolesnikov

In this work, we argue for the importance of an online evaluation budget for a reliable comparison of deep offline RL algorithms. First, we delineate that the online evaluation budget is problem-dependent, where some problems allow for less but others for more. And second, we demonstrate that the preference between algorithms is budget-dependent across a diverse range of decision-making domains such as Robotics, Finance, and Energy Management. Following the points above, we suggest reporting the performance of deep offline RL algorithms under varying online evaluation budgets. To facilitate this, we propose to use a reporting tool from the NLP field, Expected Validation Performance. This technique makes it possible to reliably estimate expected maximum performance under different budgets while not requiring any additional computation beyond hyperparameter search. By employing this tool, we also show that Behavioral Cloning is often more favorable to offline RL algorithms when working within a limited budget.

# #820
Phasic Self-Imitative Reduction for Sparse-Reward Goal-Conditioned Reinforcement Learning

Yunfei Li · Tian Gao · Jiaqi Yang · Huazhe Xu · Yi Wu

It has been a recent trend to leverage the power of supervised learning (SL) towards more effective reinforcement learning (RL) methods. We propose a novel phasic solution by alternating online RL and offline SL for tackling sparse-reward goal-conditioned problems. In the online phase, we perform RL training and collect rollout data while in the offline phase, we perform SL on those successful trajectories from the dataset. To further improve sample efficiency, we adopt additional techniques in the online phase including task reduction to generate more feasible trajectories and a value-difference-based intrinsic reward to alleviate the sparse-reward issue. We call this overall framework, PhAsic self-Imitative Reduction (PAIR). PAIR is compatible with various online and offline RL methods and substantially outperforms both non-phasic RL and phasic SL baselines on sparse-reward robotic control problems, including a particularly challenging stacking task. PAIR is the first RL method that learns to stack 6 cubes with only 0/1 success rewards from scratch.

# #822
Model-based Meta Reinforcement Learning using Graph Structured Surrogate Models and Amortized Policy Search

Qi Wang · Herke van Hoof

Reinforcement learning is a promising paradigm for solving sequential decision-making problems, but low data efficiency and weak generalization across tasks are bottlenecks in real-world applications. Model-based meta reinforcement learning addresses these issues by learning dynamics and leveraging knowledge from prior experience. In this paper, we take a closer look at this framework and propose a new posterior sampling based approach that consists of a new model to identify task dynamics together with an amortized policy optimization step. We show that our model, called a graph structured surrogate model (GSSM), achieves competitive dynamics prediction performance with lower model complexity. Moreover, our approach in policy search is able to obtain high returns and allows fast execution by avoiding test-time policy gradient updates.

# #824
Generalized Data Distribution Iteration

Jiajun Fan · Changnan Xiao

To obtain higher sample efficiency and superior final performance simultaneously has been one of the major challenges for deep reinforcement learning (DRL). Previous work could handle one of these challenges but typically failed to address them concurrently. In this paper, we try to tackle these two challenges simultaneously. To achieve this, we firstly decouple these challenges into two classic RL problems: data richness and exploration-exploitation trade-off. Then, we cast these two problems into the training data distribution optimization problem, namely to obtain desired training data within limited interactions, and address them concurrently via i) explicit modeling and control of the capacity and diversity of behavior policy and ii) more fine-grained and adaptive control of selective/sampling distribution of the behavior policy using a monotonic data distribution optimization. Finally, we integrate this process into Generalized Policy Iteration (GPI) and obtain a more general framework called Generalized Data Distribution Iteration (GDI). We use the GDI framework to introduce operator-based versions of well-known RL methods from DQN to Agent57. Theoretical guarantee of the superiority of GDI compared with GPI is concluded. We also demonstrate our state-of-the-art (SOTA) performance on Arcade Learning Environment (ALE), wherein our algorithm has achieved 9620.98% mean human normalized score (HNS), 1146.39% median HNS, and surpassed 22 human world records using only 200M training frames. Our performance is comparable to Agent57’s while we consume 500 times less data. We argue that there is still a long way to go before obtaining real superhuman agents in ALE.

# #826
Optimizing Tensor Network Contraction Using Reinforcement Learning

Eli Meirom · Haggai Maron · Shie Mannor · Gal Chechik

Quantum Computing (QC) stands to revolutionize computing, but is currently still limited. To develop and test quantum algorithms today, quantum circuits are often simulated on classical computers. Simulating a complex quantum circuit requires computing the contraction of a large network of tensors. The order (path) of contraction can have a drastic effect on the computing cost, but finding an efficient order is a challenging combinatorial optimization problem.We propose a Reinforcement Learning (RL) approach combined with Graph Neural Networks (GNN) to address the contraction ordering problem. The problem is extremely challenging due to the huge search space, the heavy-tailed reward distribution, and the challenging credit assignment. We show how a carefully implemented RL-agent that uses a GNN as the basic policy construct can address these challenges and obtain significant improvements over state-of-the-art techniques in three varieties of circuits, including the largest scale networks used in contemporary QC.

# #828
History Compression via Language Models in Reinforcement Learning

Fabian Paischer · Thomas Adler · Vihang Patil · Angela Bitto-Nemling · Markus Holzleitner · Sebastian Lehner · Hamid Eghbal-zadeh · Sepp Hochreiter

In a partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP), an agent typically uses a representation of the past to approximate the underlying MDP. We propose to utilize a frozen Pretrained Language Transformer (PLT) for history representation and compression to improve sample efficiency. To avoid training of the Transformer, we introduce FrozenHopfield, which automatically associates observations with pretrained token embeddings. To form these associations, a modern Hopfield network stores these token embeddings, which are retrieved by queries that are obtained by a random but fixed projection of observations. Our new method, HELM, enables actor-critic network architectures that contain a pretrained language Transformer for history representation as a memory module. Since a representation of the past need not be learned, HELM is much more sample efficient than competitors. On Minigrid and Procgen environments HELM achieves new state-of-the-art results. Our code is available at

# #830
REvolveR: Continuous Evolutionary Models for Robot-to-robot Policy Transfer

Xingyu Liu · Deepak Pathak · Kris Kitani

A popular paradigm in robotic learning is to train a policy from scratch for every new robot. This is not only inefficient but also often impractical for complex robots. In this work, we consider the problem of transferring a policy across two different robots with significantly different parameters such as kinematics and morphology. Existing approaches that train a new policy by matching the action or state transition distribution, including imitation learning methods, fail due to optimal action and/or state distribution being mismatched in different robots. In this paper, we propose a novel method named REvolveR of using continuous evolutionary models for robotic policy transfer implemented in a physics simulator. We interpolate between the source robot and the target robot by finding a continuous evolutionary change of robot parameters. An expert policy on the source robot is transferred through training on a sequence of intermediate robots that gradually evolve into the target robot. Experiments on a physics simulator show that the proposed continuous evolutionary model can effectively transfer the policy across robots and achieve superior sample efficiency on new robots. The proposed method is especially advantageous in sparse reward settings where exploration can be significantly reduced.

# #832
LeNSE: Learning To Navigate Subgraph Embeddings for Large-Scale Combinatorial Optimisation

David Ireland · Giovanni Montana

Combinatorial Optimisation problems arise in several application domains and are often formulated in terms of graphs. Many of these problems are NP-hard, but exact solutions are not always needed. Several heuristics have been developed to provide near-optimal solutions; however, they do not typically scale well with the size of the graph. We propose a low-complexity approach for identifying a (possibly much smaller) subgraph of the original graph where the heuristics can be run in reasonable time and with a high likelihood of finding a global near-optimal solution. The core component of our approach is LeNSE, a reinforcement learning algorithm that learns how to navigate the space of possible subgraphs using an Euclidean subgraph embedding as its map. To solve CO problems, LeNSE is provided with a discriminative embedding trained using any existing heuristics using only on a small portion of the original graph. When tested on three problems (vertex cover, max-cut and influence maximisation) using real graphs with up to $10$ million edges, LeNSE identifies small subgraphs yielding solutions comparable to those found by running the heuristics on the entire graph, but at a fraction of the total run time. Code for the experiments is available in the public GitHub repo at

# #834
Efficient Learning for AlphaZero via Path Consistency

Dengwei Zhao · Shikui Tu · Lei Xu

In recent years, deep reinforcement learning have made great breakthroughs on board games. Still, most of the works require huge computational resources for a large scale of environmental interactions or self-play for the games. This paper aims at building powerful models under a limited amount of self-plays which can be utilized by a human throughout the lifetime. We proposes a learning algorithm built on AlphaZero, with its path searching regularised by a path consistency (PC) optimality, i.e., values on one optimal search path should be identical. Thus, the algorithm is shortly named PCZero. In implementation, historical trajectory and scouted search paths by MCTS makes a good balance between exploration and exploitation, which enhances the generalization ability effectively. PCZero obtains $94.1\%$ winning rate against the champion of Hex Computer Olympiad in 2015 on $13\times 13$ Hex, much higher than $84.3\%$ by AlphaZero. The models consume only $900K$ self-play games, about the amount humans can study in a lifetime. The improvements by PCZero have been also generalized to Othello and Gomoku. Experiments also demonstrate the efficiency of PCZero under offline learning setting.

# #836
A data-driven approach for learning to control computers

Peter Humphreys · David Raposo · Tobias Pohlen · Gregory Thornton · Rachita Chhaparia · Alistair Muldal · Josh Abramson · Petko Georgiev · Adam Santoro · Timothy Lillicrap

It would be useful for machines to use computers as humans do so that they can aid us in everyday tasks. This is a setting in which there is also the potential to leverage large-scale expert demonstrations and human judgements of interactive behaviour, which are two ingredients that have driven much recent success in AI. Here we investigate the setting of computer control using keyboard and mouse, with goals specified via natural language. Instead of focusing on hand-designed curricula and specialized action spaces, we focus on developing a scalable method centered on reinforcement learning combined with behavioural priors informed by actual human-computer interactions. We achieve state-of-the-art and human-level mean performance across all tasks within the MiniWob++ benchmark, a challenging suite of computer control problems, and find strong evidence of cross-task transfer. These results demonstrate the usefulness of a unified human-agent interface when training machines to use computers. Altogether our results suggest a formula for achieving competency beyond MiniWob++ and towards controlling computers, in general, as a human would.

# #838
Zero-Shot Reward Specification via Grounded Natural Language

Parsa Mahmoudieh · Deepak Pathak · Trevor Darrell

Reward signals in reinforcement learning are expensive to design and often require access to the true state which is not available in the real world. Common alternatives are usually demonstrations or goal images which can be labor-intensive to collect. On the other hand, text descriptions provide a general, natural, and low-effort way of communicating the desired task. However, prior works in learning text-conditioned policies still rely on rewards that are defined using either true state or labeled expert demonstrations. We use recent developments in building large-scale visuolanguage models like CLIP to devise a framework that generates the task reward signal just from goal text description and raw pixel observations which is then used to learn the task policy. We evaluate the proposed framework on control and robotic manipulation tasks. Finally, we distill the individual task policies into a single goal text conditioned policy that can generalize in a zero-shot manner to new tasks with unseen objects and unseen goal text descriptions.

# #837
How to Stay Curious while avoiding Noisy TVs using Aleatoric Uncertainty Estimation

Augustine Mavor-Parker · Kimberly Young · Caswell Barry · Lewis Griffin

When extrinsic rewards are sparse, artificial agents struggle to explore an environment. Curiosity, implemented as an intrinsic reward for prediction errors, can improve exploration but it is known to fail when faced with action-dependent noise sources (‘noisy TVs’). In an attempt to make exploring agents robust to Noisy TVs, we present a simple solution: aleatoric mapping agents (AMAs). AMAs are a novel form of curiosity that explicitly ascertain which state transitions of the environment are unpredictable, even if those dynamics are induced by the actions of the agent. This is achieved by generating separate forward predictions for the mean and aleatoric uncertainty of future states, with the aim of reducing intrinsic rewards for those transitions that are unpredictable. We demonstrate that in a range of environments AMAs are able to circumvent action-dependent stochastic traps that immobilise conventional curiosity driven agents. Furthermore, we demonstrate empirically that other common exploration approaches---previously thought to be immune to agent-induced randomness---can be trapped by stochastic dynamics.

# #835
Model-Value Inconsistency as a Signal for Epistemic Uncertainty

Angelos Filos · Eszter Vértes · Zita Marinho · Gregory Farquhar · Diana Borsa · Abe Friesen · Feryal Behbahani · Tom Schaul · Andre Barreto · Simon Osindero

Using a model of the environment and a value function, an agent can construct many estimates of a state’s value, by unrolling the model for different lengths and bootstrapping with its value function. Our key insight is that one can treat this set of value estimates as a type of ensemble, which we call an implicit value ensemble (IVE). Consequently, the discrepancy between these estimates can be used as a proxy for the agent’s epistemic uncertainty; we term this signal model-value inconsistency or self-inconsistency for short. Unlike prior work which estimates uncertainty by training an ensemble of many models and/or value functions, this approach requires only the single model and value function which are already being learned in most model-based reinforcement learning algorithms. We provide empirical evidence in both tabular and function approximation settings from pixels that self-inconsistency is useful (i) as a signal for exploration, (ii) for acting safely under distribution shifts, and (iii) for robustifying value-based planning with a learned model.

# #833
Improving Policy Optimization with Generalist-Specialist Learning

Zhiwei Jia · Xuanlin Li · Zhan Ling · Shuang Liu · Yiran Wu · Hao Su

Generalization in deep reinforcement learning over unseen environment variations usually requires policy learning over a large set of diverse training variations. We empirically observe that an agent trained on many variations (a generalist) tends to learn faster at the beginning, yet its performance plateaus at a less optimal level for a long time. In contrast, an agent trained only on a few variations (a specialist) can often achieve high returns under a limited computational budget. To have the best of both worlds, we propose a novel generalist-specialist training framework. Specifically, we first train a generalist on all environment variations; when it fails to improve, we launch a large population of specialists with weights cloned from the generalist, each trained to master a selected small subset of variations. We finally resume the training of the generalist with auxiliary rewards induced by demonstrations of all specialists. In particular, we investigate the timing to start specialist training and compare strategies to learn generalists with assistance from specialists.We show that this framework pushes the envelope of policy learning on several challenging and popular benchmarks including Procgen, Meta-World and ManiSkill.

# #829
Biased Gradient Estimate with Drastic Variance Reduction for Meta Reinforcement Learning

Yunhao Tang

Despite the empirical success of meta reinforcement learning (meta-RL), there are still a number poorly-understood discrepancies between theory and practice. Critically, biased gradient estimates are almost always implemented in practice, whereas prior theory on meta-RL only establishes convergence under unbiased gradient estimates. In this work, we investigate such a discrepancy. In particular, (1) We show that unbiased gradient estimates have variance $\Theta(N)$ which linearly depends on the sample size $N$ of the inner loop updates; (2) We propose linearized score function (LSF) gradient estimates, which have bias $\mathcal{O}(1/\sqrt{N})$ and variance $\mathcal{O}(1/N)$; (3) We show that most empirical prior work in fact implements variants of the LSF gradient estimates. This implies that practical algorithms "accidentally" introduce bias to achieve better performance; (4) We establish theoretical guarantees for the LSF gradient estimates in meta-RL regarding its convergence to stationary points, showing better dependency on $N$ than prior work when $N$ is large.

# #827
Analysis of Stochastic Processes through Replay Buffers

Shirli Di-Castro Shashua · Shie Mannor · Dotan Di Castro

Replay buffers are a key component in many reinforcement learning schemes. Yet, their theoretical properties are not fully understood. In this paper we analyze a system where a stochastic process X is pushed into a replay buffer and then randomly sampled to generate a stochastic process Y from the replay buffer. We provide an analysis of the properties of the sampled process such as stationarity, Markovity and autocorrelation in terms of the properties of the original process. Our theoretical analysis sheds light on why replay buffer may be a good de-correlator. Our analysis provides theoretical tools for proving the convergence of replay buffer based algorithms which are prevalent in reinforcement learning schemes.

# #825
Cascaded Gaps: Towards Logarithmic Regret for Risk-Sensitive Reinforcement Learning

Yingjie Fei · Ruitu Xu

In this paper, we study gap-dependent regret guarantees for risk-sensitive reinforcement learning based on the entropic risk measure. We propose a novel definition of sub-optimality gaps, which we call cascaded gaps, and we discuss their key components that adapt to underlying structures of the problem. Based on the cascaded gaps, we derive non-asymptotic and logarithmic regret bounds for two model-free algorithms under episodic Markov decision processes. We show that, in appropriate settings, these bounds feature exponential improvement over existing ones that are independent of gaps. We also prove gap-dependent lower bounds, which certify the near optimality of the upper bounds.

# #823
Communicating via Markov Decision Processes

Samuel Sokota · Christian Schroeder · Maximilian Igl · Luisa Zintgraf · Phil Torr · Martin Strohmeier · Zico Kolter · Shimon Whiteson · Jakob Foerster

We consider the problem of communicating exogenous information by means of Markov decision process trajectories. This setting, which we call a Markov coding game (MCG), generalizes both source coding and a large class of referential games. MCGs also isolate a problem that is important in decentralized control settings in which cheap-talk is not available---namely, they require balancing communication with the associated cost of communicating. We contribute a theoretically grounded approach to MCGs based on maximum entropy reinforcement learning and minimum entropy coupling that we call MEME. Due to recent breakthroughs in approximation algorithms for minimum entropy coupling, MEME is not merely a theoretical algorithm, but can be applied to practical settings. Empirically, we show both that MEME is able to outperform a strong baseline on small MCGs and that MEME is able to achieve strong performance on extremely large MCGs. To the latter point, we demonstrate that MEME is able to losslessly communicate binary images via trajectories of Cartpole and Pong, while simultaneously achieving the maximal or near maximal expected returns, and that it is even capable of performing well in the presence of actuator noise.

# #821
PAGE-PG: A Simple and Loopless Variance-Reduced Policy Gradient Method with Probabilistic Gradient Estimation

Matilde Gargiani · Andrea Zanelli · Andrea Martinelli · Tyler Summers · John Lygeros

Despite their success, policy gradient methods suffer from high variance of the gradient estimator, which can result in unsatisfactory sample complexity. Recently, numerous variance-reduced extensions of policy gradient methods with provably better sample complexity and competitive numerical performance have been proposed.After a compact survey on some of the main variance-reduced REINFORCE-type methods, we propose ProbAbilistic Gradient Estimation for Policy Gradient (PAGE-PG), a novel loopless variance-reduced policy gradient method based on a probabilistic switch between two types of update. Our method is inspired by the PAGE estimator for supervised learning and leverages importance sampling to obtain an unbiased gradient estimator. We show that PAGE-PG enjoys a $\mathcal{O}\left( \epsilon^{-3} \right)$ average sample complexity to reach an $\epsilon$-stationary solution, which matches the sample complexity of its most competitive counterparts under the same setting. A numerical evaluation confirms the competitive performance of our method on classical control tasks.

# #819
DNS: Determinantal Point Process Based Neural Network Sampler for Ensemble Reinforcement Learning

Hassam Sheikh · Kizza Nandyose Frisbee · mariano phielipp

The application of an ensemble of neural networks is becoming an imminent tool for advancing state-of-the-art deep reinforcement learning algorithms. However, training these large numbers of neural networks in the ensemble has anexceedingly high computation cost which may become a hindrance in training large-scale systems. In this paper, we propose DNS: a DeterminantalPoint Process based Neural Network Sampler that specifically uses k-DPP to sample a subset of neural networks for backpropagation at every training step thus significantly reducing the training time and computation cost. We integrated DNS in REDQ for continuous control tasks and evaluated on MuJoCo environments. Our experiments show that DNS augmented REDQ matches the baseline REDQ in terms of average cumulative reward and achieves this using less than 50% computation when measured in FLOPS. The code is available at

# #817
Planning with Diffusion for Flexible Behavior Synthesis

Michael Janner · Yilun Du · Josh Tenenbaum · Sergey Levine

Model-based reinforcement learning methods often use learning only for the purpose of recovering an approximate dynamics model, offloading the rest of the decision-making work to classical trajectory optimizers.While conceptually simple, this combination has a number of empirical shortcomings, suggesting that learned models may not be well-suited to standard trajectory optimization.In this paper, we consider what it would look like to fold as much of the trajectory optimization pipeline as possible into the modeling problem, such that sampling from the model and planning with it become nearly identical.The core of our technical approach lies in a diffusion probabilistic model that plans by iteratively denoising trajectories.We show how classifier-guided sampling and image inpainting can be reinterpreted as coherent planning strategies, explore the unusual and useful properties of diffusion-based planning methods, and demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework in control settings that emphasize long-horizon decision-making and test-time flexibility.

# #815
A Temporal-Difference Approach to Policy Gradient Estimation

Samuele Tosatto · Andrew Patterson · Martha White · A. Mahmood

The policy gradient theorem (Sutton et al., 2000) prescribes the usage of a cumulative discounted state distribution under the target policy to approximate the gradient. Most algorithms based on this theorem, in practice, break this assumption, introducing a distribution shift that can cause the convergence to poor solutions. In this paper, we propose a new approach of reconstructing the policy gradient from the start state without requiring a particular sampling strategy. The policy gradient calculation in this form can be simplified in terms of a gradient critic, which can be recursively estimated due to a new Bellman equation of gradients. By using temporal-difference updates of the gradient critic from an off-policy data stream, we develop the first estimator that side-steps the distribution shift issue in a model-free way. We prove that, under certain realizability conditions, our estimator is unbiased regardless of the sampling strategy. We empirically show that our technique achieves a superior bias-variance trade-off and performance in presence of off-policy samples.

# #813
MASER: Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning with Subgoals Generated from Experience Replay Buffer

JEON JEEWON · WOOJUN KIM · Whiyoung Jung · Youngchul Sung

In this paper, we consider cooperative multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) with sparse reward. To tackle this problem, we propose a novel method named MASER: MARL with subgoals generated from experience replay buffer. Under the widely-used assumption of centralized training with decentralized execution and consistent Q-value decomposition for MARL, MASER automatically generates proper subgoals for multiple agents from the experience replay buffer by considering both individual Q-value and total Q-value. Then, MASER designs individual intrinsic reward for each agent based on actionable representation relevant to Q-learning so that the agents reach their subgoals while maximizing the joint action value. Numerical results show that MASER significantly outperforms StarCraft II micromanagement benchmark compared to other state-of-the-art MARL algorithms.

# #811
Reinforcement Learning from Partial Observation: Linear Function Approximation with Provable Sample Efficiency

Qi Cai · Zhuoran Yang · Zhaoran Wang

We study reinforcement learning for partially observed Markov decision processes (POMDPs) with infinite observation and state spaces, which remains less investigated theoretically. To this end, we make the first attempt at bridging partial observability and function approximation for a class of POMDPs with a linear structure. In detail, we propose a reinforcement learning algorithm (Optimistic Exploration via Adversarial Integral Equation or OP-TENET) that attains an $\epsilon$-optimal policy within $O(1/\epsilon^2)$ episodes. In particular, the sample complexity scales polynomially in the intrinsic dimension of the linear structure and is independent of the size of the observation and state spaces. The sample efficiency of OP-TENET is enabled by a sequence of ingredients: (i) a Bellman operator with finite memory, which represents the value function in a recursive manner, (ii) the identification and estimation of such an operator via an adversarial integral equation, which features a smoothed discriminator tailored to the linear structure, and (iii) the exploration of the observation and state spaces via optimism, which is based on quantifying the uncertainty in the adversarial integral equation.

# #809
Actor-Critic based Improper Reinforcement Learning

Mohammadi Zaki · Avi Mohan · Aditya Gopalan · Shie Mannor

We consider an improper reinforcement learning setting where alearner is given $M$ base controllers for an unknown Markovdecision process, and wishes to combine them optimally to producea potentially new controller that can outperform each of the baseones. This can be useful in tuning across controllers, learnt possibly in mismatched or simulated environments, to obtain a good controller for a given target environment with relatively few trials. Towards this, we propose two algorithms: (1) a Policy Gradient-based approach; and (2) an algorithm that can switch between a simple Actor-Critic (AC) based scheme and a Natural Actor-Critic (NAC) scheme depending on the available information. Both algorithms operate over aclass of improper mixtures of the given controllers. For the first case, we derive convergence rate guarantees assuming access to a gradient oracle. For the AC-based approach we provide convergence rate guarantees to a stationary point in the basic AC case and to a global optimum in the NAC case. Numerical results on (i) the standard control theoretic benchmark of stabilizing an inverted pendulum; and (ii) a constrainedqueueing task show that our improper policy optimization algorithm can stabilize the system even when the base policies at its disposal are unstable.

# #807
On the Sample Complexity of Learning Infinite-horizon Discounted Linear Kernel MDPs

Yuanzhou Chen · Jiafan He · Quanquan Gu

We study reinforcement learning for infinite-horizon discounted linear kernel MDPs, where the transition probability function is linear in a predefined feature mapping. Existing UCLK \citep{zhou2020provably} algorithm for this setting only has a regret guarantee, which cannot lead to a tight sample complexity bound. In this paper, we extend the uniform-PAC sample complexity from episodic setting to the infinite-horizon discounted setting, and propose a novel algorithm dubbed UPAC-UCLK that achieves an $\Tilde{O}\big(d^2/((1-\gamma)^4\epsilon^2)+1/((1-\gamma)^6\epsilon^2)\big)$ uniform-PAC sample complexity, where $d$ is the dimension of the feature mapping, $\gamma \in(0,1)$ is the discount factor of the MDP and $\epsilon$ is the accuracy parameter. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first $\tilde{O}(1/\epsilon^2)$ sample complexity bound for learning infinite-horizon discounted MDPs with linear function approximation (without access to the generative model).

# #805
The Geometry of Robust Value Functions

Kaixin Wang · Navdeep Kumar · Kuangqi Zhou · Bryan Hooi · Jiashi Feng · Shie Mannor

The space of value functions is a fundamental concept in reinforcement learning. Characterizing its geometric properties may provide insights for optimization and representation. Existing works mainly focus on the value space for Markov Decision Processes (MDPs). In this paper, we study the geometry of the robust value space for the more general Robust MDPs (RMDPs) setting, where transition uncertainties are considered. Specifically, since we find it hard to directly adapt prior approaches to RMDPs, we start with revisiting the non-robust case, and introduce a new perspective that enables us to characterize both the non-robust and robust value space in a similar fashion. The key of this perspective is to decompose the value space, in a state-wise manner, into unions of hypersurfaces. Through our analysis, we show that the robust value space is determined by a set of conic hypersurfaces, each of which contains the robust values of all policies that agree on one state. Furthermore, we find that taking only extreme points in the uncertainty set is sufficient to determine the robust value space. Finally, we discuss some other aspects about the robust value space, including its non-convexity and policy agreement on multiple states.

# #803
Denoised MDPs: Learning World Models Better Than the World Itself

Tongzhou Wang · Simon Du · Antonio Torralba · Phillip Isola · Amy Zhang · Yuandong Tian

The ability to separate signal from noise, and reason with clean abstractions, is critical to intelligence. With this ability, humans can efficiently perform real world tasks without considering all possible nuisance factors. How can artificial agents do the same? What kind of information can agents safely discard as noises? In this work, we categorize information out in the wild into four types based on controllability and relation with reward, and formulate useful information as that which is both controllable and reward-relevant. This framework clarifies the kinds information removed by various prior work on representation learning in reinforcement learning (RL), and leads to our proposed approach of learning a Denoised MDP that explicitly factors out certain noise distractors. Extensive experiments on variants of DeepMind Control Suite and RoboDesk demonstrate superior performance of our denoised world model over using raw observations alone, and over prior works, across policy optimization control tasks as well as the non-control task of joint position regression.Project Page:

# #801
Greedy based Value Representation for Optimal Coordination in Multi-agent Reinforcement Learning

Lipeng Wan · Zeyang Liu · Xingyu Chen · Xuguang Lan · Nanning Zheng

Due to the representation limitation of the joint Q value function, multi-agent reinforcement learning methods with linear value decomposition (LVD) or monotonic value decomposition (MVD) suffer from relative overgeneralization. As a result, they can not ensure optimal consistency (i.e., the correspondence between individual greedy actions and the best team performance). In this paper, we derive the expression of the joint Q value function of LVD and MVD. According to the expression, we draw a transition diagram, where each self-transition node (STN) is a possible convergence. To ensure the optimal consistency, the optimal node is required to be the unique STN. Therefore, we propose the greedy-based value representation (GVR), which turns the optimal node into an STN via inferior target shaping and eliminates the non-optimal STNs via superior experience replay. Theoretical proofs and empirical results demonstrate that given the true Q values, GVR ensures the optimal consistency under sufficient exploration. Besides, in tasks where the true Q values are unavailable, GVR achieves an adaptive trade-off between optimality and stability. Our method outperforms state-of-the-art baselines in experiments on various benchmarks.

# #900
Bayesian Nonparametrics for Offline Skill Discovery

Valentin Villecroze · Harry Braviner · Panteha Naderian · Chris Maddison · Gabriel Loaiza-Ganem

Skills or low-level policies in reinforcement learning are temporally extended actions that can speed up learning and enable complex behaviours. Recent work in offline reinforcement learning and imitation learning has proposed several techniques for skill discovery from a set of expert trajectories. While these methods are promising, the number K of skills to discover is always a fixed hyperparameter, which requires either prior knowledge about the environment or an additional parameter search to tune it. We first propose a method for offline learning of options (a particular skill framework) exploiting advances in variational inference and continuous relaxations. We then highlight an unexplored connection between Bayesian nonparametrics and offline skill discovery, and show how to obtain a nonparametric version of our model. This version is tractable thanks to a carefully structured approximate posterior with a dynamically-changing number of options, removing the need to specify K. We also show how our nonparametric extension can be applied in other skill frameworks, and empirically demonstrate that our method can outperform state-of-the-art offline skill learning algorithms across a variety of environments.

# #902
Convergence of Policy Gradient for Entropy Regularized MDPs with Neural Network Approximation in the Mean-Field Regime

James-Michael Leahy · Bekzhan Kerimkulov · David Siska · Lukasz Szpruch

We study the global convergence of policy gradient for infinite-horizon, continuous state and action space, and entropy-regularized Markov decision processes (MDPs). We consider a softmax policy with (one-hidden layer) neural network approximation in a mean-field regime. Additional entropic regularization in the associated mean-field probability measure is added, and the corresponding gradient flow is studied in the 2-Wasserstein metric. We show that the objective function is increasing along the gradient flow.Further, we prove that if the regularization in terms of the mean-field measure is sufficient, the gradient flow converges exponentially fast to the unique stationary solution, which is the unique maximizer of the regularized MDP objective. Lastly, we study the sensitivity of the value function along the gradient flow with respect to regularization parameters and the initial condition. Our results rely on the careful analysis of the non-linear Fokker--Planck--Kolmogorov equation and extend the pioneering work of \cite{mei2020global} and \cite{agarwal2020optimality}, which quantify the global convergence rate of policy gradient for entropy-regularized MDPs in the tabular setting.

# #904
Curriculum Reinforcement Learning via Constrained Optimal Transport

Pascal Klink · Haoyi Yang · Carlo D'Eramo · Jan Peters · Joni Pajarinen

Curriculum reinforcement learning (CRL) allows solving complex tasks by generating a tailored sequence of learning tasks, starting from easy ones and subsequently increasing their difficulty. Although the potential of curricula in RL has been clearly shown in a variety of works, it is less clear how to generate them for a given learning environment, resulting in a variety of methods aiming to automate this task. In this work, we focus on the idea of framing curricula as interpolations between task distributions, which has previously been shown to be a viable approach to CRL. Identifying key issues of existing methods, we frame the generation of a curriculum as a constrained optimal transport problem between task distributions. Benchmarks show that this way of curriculum generation can improve upon existing CRL methods, yielding high performance in a variety of tasks with different characteristics.

# #906
Recurrent Model-Free RL Can Be a Strong Baseline for Many POMDPs

Tianwei Ni · Benjamin Eysenbach · Ruslan Salakhutdinov

Many problems in RL, such as meta-RL, robust RL, generalization in RL, and temporal credit assignment, can be cast as POMDPs. In theory, simply augmenting model-free RL with memory-based architectures, such as recurrent neural networks, provides a general approach to solving all types of POMDPs. However, prior work has found that such recurrent model-free RL methods tend to perform worse than more specialized algorithms that are designed for specific types of POMDPs. This paper revisits this claim. We find that careful architecture and hyperparameter decisions can often yield a recurrent model-free implementation that performs on par with (and occasionally substantially better than) more sophisticated recent techniques. We compare to 21 environments from 6 prior specialized methods and find that our implementation achieves greater sample efficiency and asymptotic performance than these methods on 18/21 environments. We also release a simple and efficient implementation of recurrent model-free RL for future work to use as a baseline for POMDPs.

# #908
Stabilizing Q-learning with Linear Architectures for Provable Efficient Learning

Andrea Zanette · Martin Wainwright

The Q-learning algorithm is a simple, fundamental and practically very effective reinforcement learning algorithm. However, the basic protocol can exhibit an unstable behavior when implemented even with simple linear function approximation. While tools like target networks and experience replayare often implemented to stabilize the learning process, the individual contribution of each of these mechanisms is not well understood theoretically.This work proposes an exploration variant of the basicQ-learning protocol with linear function approximation. Our modular analysis illustrates the role played by each algorithmic tool that we adopt:a second order update rule,a set of target networks, and a mechanism akin to experience replay.Together, they enable state of the art regret bounds on linear MDPs while preserving the most prominent feature of the algorithm, namely a space complexity independent of the number of steps elapsed. Furthermore, we show that the performance of the algorithm degrades very gracefully under a new, more permissive notion of approximation error. Finally, the algorithm partially inherits problem dependent regret bounds,function of the number of `effective' feature dimension.

# #910
Constrained Offline Policy Optimization

Nicholas Polosky · Bruno C. da Silva · Madalina Fiterau · Jithin Jagannath

In this work we introduce Constrained Offline Policy Optimization (COPO), an offline policy optimization algorithm for learning in MDPs with cost constraints. COPO is built upon a novel offline cost-projection method, which we formally derive and analyze. Our method improves upon the state-of-the-art in offline constrained policy optimization by explicitly accounting for distributional shift and by offering non-asymptotic confidence bounds on the cost of a policy. These formal properties are superior to those of existing techniques, which only guarantee convergence to a point estimate. We formally analyze our method and empirically demonstrate that it achieves state-of-the-art performance on discrete and continuous control problems, while offering the aforementioned improved, stronger, and more robust theoretical guarantees.

# #912
Causal Dynamics Learning for Task-Independent State Abstraction

Zizhao Wang · Xuesu Xiao · Zifan Xu · Yuke Zhu · Peter Stone

Learning dynamics models accurately is an important goal for Model-Based Reinforcement Learning (MBRL), but most MBRL methods learn a dense dynamics model which is vulnerable to spurious correlations and therefore generalizes poorly to unseen states. In this paper, we introduce Causal Dynamics Learning for Task-Independent State Abstraction (CDL), which first learns a theoretically proved causal dynamics model that removes unnecessary dependencies between state variables and the action, thus generalizing well to unseen states. A state abstraction can then be derived from the learned dynamics, which not only improves sample efficiency but also applies to a wider range of tasks than existing state abstraction methods. Evaluated on two simulated environments and downstream tasks, both the dynamics model and policies learned by the proposed method generalize well to unseen states and the derived state abstraction improves sample efficiency compared to learning without it.

# #914
Leveraging Approximate Symbolic Models for Reinforcement Learning via Skill Diversity

Lin Guan · Sarath Sreedharan · Subbarao Kambhampati

Creating reinforcement learning (RL) agents that are capable of accepting and leveraging task-specific knowledge from humans has been long identified as a possible strategy for developing scalable approaches for solving long-horizon problems. While previous works have looked at the possibility of using symbolic models along with RL approaches, they tend to assume that the high-level action models are executable at low level and the fluents can exclusively characterize all desirable MDP states. Symbolic models of real world tasks are however often incomplete. To this end, we introduce Approximate Symbolic-Model Guided Reinforcement Learning, wherein we will formalize the relationship between the symbolic model and the underlying MDP that will allow us to characterize the incompleteness of the symbolic model. We will use these models to extract high-level landmarks that will be used to decompose the task. At the low level, we learn a set of diverse policies for each possible task subgoal identified by the landmark, which are then stitched together. We evaluate our system by testing on three different benchmark domains and show how even with incomplete symbolic model information, our approach is able to discover the task structure and efficiently guide the RL agent towards the goal.

# #916
Reinforcement Learning with Action-Free Pre-Training from Videos

Younggyo Seo · Kimin Lee · Stephen James · Pieter Abbeel

Recent unsupervised pre-training methods have shown to be effective on language and vision domains by learning useful representations for multiple downstream tasks. In this paper, we investigate if such unsupervised pre-training methods can also be effective for vision-based reinforcement learning (RL). To this end, we introduce a framework that learns representations useful for understanding the dynamics via generative pre-training on videos. Our framework consists of two phases: we pre-train an action-free latent video prediction model, and then utilize the pre-trained representations for efficiently learning action-conditional world models on unseen environments. To incorporate additional action inputs during fine-tuning, we introduce a new architecture that stacks an action-conditional latent prediction model on top of the pre-trained action-free prediction model. Moreover, for better exploration, we propose a video-based intrinsic bonus that leverages pre-trained representations. We demonstrate that our framework significantly improves both final performances and sample-efficiency of vision-based RL in a variety of manipulation and locomotion tasks. Code is available at \url{}.

# #918
Towards Evaluating Adaptivity of Model-Based Reinforcement Learning Methods

Yi Wan · Ali Rahimi-Kalahroudi · Janarthanan Rajendran · Ida Momennejad · Sarath Chandar · Harm van Seijen

In recent years, a growing number of deep model-based reinforcement learning (RL) methods have been introduced. The interest in deep model-based RL is not surprising, given its many potential benefits, such as higher sample efficiency and the potential for fast adaption to changes in the environment. However, we demonstrate, using an improved version of the recently introduced Local Change Adaptation (LoCA) setup, that well-known model-based methods such as PlaNet and DreamerV2 perform poorly in their ability to adapt to local environmental changes. Combined with prior work that made a similar observation about the other popular model-based method, MuZero, a trend appears to emerge, suggesting that current deep model-based methods have serious limitations. We dive deeper into the causes of this poor performance, by identifying elements that hurt adaptive behavior and linking these to underlying techniques frequently used in deep model-based RL. We empirically validate these insights in the case of linear function approximation by demonstrating that a modified version of linear Dyna achieves effective adaptation to local changes. Furthermore, we provide detailed insights into the challenges of building an adaptive nonlinear model-based method, by experimenting with a nonlinear version of Dyna.

# #920
Delayed Reinforcement Learning by Imitation

Pierre Liotet · Davide Maran · Lorenzo Bisi · Marcello Restelli

When the agent's observations or interactions are delayed, classic reinforcement learning tools usually fail. In this paper, we propose a simple yet new and efficient solution to this problem. We assume that, in the undelayed environment, an efficient policy is known or can be easily learnt, but the task may suffer from delays in practice and we thus want to take them into account. We present a novel algorithm, Delayed Imitation with Dataset Aggregation (DIDA), which builds upon imitation learning methods to learn how to act in a delayed environment from undelayed demonstrations. We provide a theoretical analysis of the approach that will guide the practical design of DIDA. These results are also of general interest in the delayed reinforcement learning literature by providing bounds on the performance between delayed and undelayed tasks, under smoothness conditions. We show empirically that DIDA obtains high performances with a remarkable sample efficiency on a variety of tasks, including robotic locomotion, classic control, and trading.

# #922
Reachability Constrained Reinforcement Learning

Dongjie Yu · Haitong Ma · Shengbo Li · Jianyu Chen

Constrained reinforcement learning (CRL) has gained significant interest recently, since safety constraints satisfaction is critical for real-world problems. However, existing CRL methods constraining discounted cumulative costs generally lack rigorous definition and guarantee of safety. In contrast, in the safe control research, safety is defined as persistently satisfying certain state constraints. Such persistent safety is possible only on a subset of the state space, called feasible set, where an optimal largest feasible set exists for a given environment. Recent studies incorporate feasible sets into CRL with energy-based methods such as control barrier function (CBF), safety index (SI), and leverage prior conservative estimations of feasible sets, which harms the performance of the learned policy. To deal with this problem, this paper proposes the reachability CRL (RCRL) method by using reachability analysis to establish the novel self-consistency condition and characterize the feasible sets. The feasible sets are represented by the safety value function, which is used as the constraint in CRL. We use the multi-time scale stochastic approximation theory to prove that the proposed algorithm converges to a local optimum, where the largest feasible set can be guaranteed. Empirical results on different benchmarks validate the learned feasible set, the policy performance, and constraint satisfaction of RCRL, compared to CRL and safe control baselines.

# #924
Adaptive Model Design for Markov Decision Process

Siyu Chen · Donglin Yang · Jiayang Li · Senmiao Wang · Zhuoran Yang · Zhaoran Wang

In a Markov decision process (MDP), an agent interacts with the environment via perceptions and actions. During this process, the agent aims to maximize its own gain. Hence, appropriate regulations are often required, if we hope to take the external costs/benefits of its actions into consideration. In this paper, we study how to regulate such an agent by redesigning model parameters that can affect the rewards and/or the transition kernels. We formulate this problem as a bilevel program, in which the lower-level MDP is regulated by the upper-level model designer. To solve the resulting problem, we develop a scheme that allows the designer to iteratively predict the agent's reaction by solving the MDP and then adaptively update model parameters based on the predicted reaction. The algorithm is first theoretically analyzed and then empirically tested on several MDP models arising in economics and robotics.

# #926
Goal Misgeneralization in Deep Reinforcement Learning

Lauro Langosco di Langosco · Jack Koch · Lee Sharkey · Jacob Pfau · David Krueger

We study \emph{goal misgeneralization}, a type of out-of-distribution robustness failure in reinforcement learning (RL). Goal misgeneralization occurs when an RL agent retains its capabilities out-of-distribution yet pursues the wrong goal. For instance, an agent might continue to competently avoid obstacles, but navigate to the wrong place. In contrast, previous works have typically focused on capability generalization failures, where an agent fails to do anything sensible at test time.We provide the first explicit empirical demonstrations of goal misgeneralization and present a partial characterization of its causes.

# #928
A Natural Actor-Critic Framework for Zero-Sum Markov Games

Ahmet Alacaoglu · Luca Viano · Niao He · Volkan Cevher

We introduce algorithms based on natural actor-critic and analyze their sample complexity for solving two player zero-sum Markov games in the tabular case. Our results improve the best-known sample complexities of policy gradient/actor-critic methods for convergence to Nash equilibrium in the multi-agent setting. We use the error propagation scheme in approximate dynamic programming, recent advances for global convergence of policy gradient methods, temporal difference learning, and techniques from stochastic primal-dual optimization. Our algorithms feature two stages, requiring agents to agree on an etiquette before starting their interactions, which is feasible for instance in self-play. However, the agents only access to joint reward and joint next state and not to each other's actions or policies. Our complexity results match the best-known results for global convergence of policy gradient algorithms for single agent RL. We provide numerical verification of our methods for a two player bandit environment and a two player game, Alesia. We observe improved empirical performance as compared to the recently proposed optimistic gradient descent-ascent variant for Markov games.

# #930
Distributionally Robust $Q$-Learning

Zijian Liu · Jerry Bai · Jose Blanchet · Perry Dong · Wei Xu · Zhengqing Zhou · Zhengyuan Zhou

Reinforcement learning (RL) has demonstrated remarkable achievements in simulated environments. However, carrying this success to real environments requires the important attribute of robustness, which the existing RL algorithms often lack as they assume that the future deployment environment is the same as the training environment (i.e. simulator) in which the policy is learned. This assumption often does not hold due to the discrepancy between the simulator and the real environment and, as a result, and hence renders the learned policy fragile when deployed.In this paper, we propose a novel distributionally robust $Q$-learning algorithm that learns the best policy in the worst distributional perturbation of the environment. Our algorithm first transforms the infinite-dimensional learning problem (since the environment MDP perturbation lies in an infinite-dimensional space) into a finite-dimensional dual problem and subsequently uses a multi-level Monte-Carlo scheme to approximate the dual value using samples from the simulator. Despite the complexity, we show that the resulting distributionally robust $Q$-learning algorithm asymptotically converges to optimal worst-case policy, thus making it robust to future environment changes. Simulation results further demonstrate its strong empirical robustness.

# #932
Sparsity in Partially Controllable Linear Systems

Yonathan Efroni · Sham Kakade · Akshay Krishnamurthy · Cyril Zhang

A fundamental concept in control theory is that of controllability, where any system state can bereached through an appropriate choice of control inputs. Indeed, a large body of classical and modernapproaches are designed for controllable linear dynamical systems. However, in practice, we oftenencounter systems in which a large set of state variables evolve exogenously and independently of thecontrol inputs; such systems are only partially controllable. The focus of this work is on a large classof partially controllable linear dynamical systems, specified by an underlying sparsity pattern. Our mainresults establish structural conditions and finite-sample guarantees for learning to control such systems. Inparticular, our structural results characterize those state variables which are irrelevant for optimal control,an analysis which departs from classical control techniques. Our algorithmic results adapt techniquesfrom high-dimensional statistics—specifically soft-thresholding and semiparametric least-squares—toexploit the underlying sparsity pattern in order to obtain finite-sample guarantees that significantly improveover those based on certainty-equivalence. We also corroborate these theoretical improvements overcertainty-equivalent control through a simulation study.

# #934
Saute RL: Almost Surely Safe Reinforcement Learning Using State Augmentation

Aivar Sootla · Alexander I Cowen-Rivers · Taher Jafferjee · Ziyan Wang · David Mguni · Jun Wang · Haitham Bou Ammar

Satisfying safety constraints almost surely (or with probability one) can be critical for the deployment of Reinforcement Learning (RL) in real-life applications. For example, plane landing and take-off should ideally occur with probability one. We address the problem by introducing Safety Augmented (Saute) Markov Decision Processes (MDPs), where the safety constraints are eliminated by augmenting them into the state-space and reshaping the objective. We show that Saute MDP satisfies the Bellman equation and moves us closer to solving Safe RL with constraints satisfied almost surely. We argue that Saute MDP allows viewing the Safe RL problem from a different perspective enabling new features. For instance, our approach has a plug-and-play nature, i.e., any RL algorithm can be "Sauteed''. Additionally, state augmentation allows for policy generalization across safety constraints. We finally show that Saute RL algorithms can outperform their state-of-the-art counterparts when constraint satisfaction is of high importance.

# #936
Interpretable Neural Networks with Frank-Wolfe: Sparse Relevance Maps and Relevance Orderings

Jan Macdonald · Mathieu Besançon · Sebastian Pokutta

We study the effects of constrained optimization formulations and Frank-Wolfe algorithms for obtaining interpretable neural network predictions. Reformulating the Rate-Distortion Explanations (RDE) method for relevance attribution as a constrained optimization problem provides precise control over the sparsity of relevance maps. This enables a novel multi-rate as well as a relevance-ordering variant of RDE that both empirically outperform standard RDE and other baseline methods in a well-established comparison test. We showcase several deterministic and stochastic variants of the Frank-Wolfe algorithm and their effectiveness for RDE.

# #929
Label-Free Explainability for Unsupervised Models

Jonathan Crabbé · Mihaela van der Schaar

Unsupervised black-box models are challenging to interpret. Indeed, most existing explainability methods require labels to select which component(s) of the black-box's output to interpret. In the absence of labels, black-box outputs often are representation vectors whose components do not correspond to any meaningful quantity. Hence, choosing which component(s) to interpret in a label-free unsupervised/self-supervised setting is an important, yet unsolved problem. To bridge this gap in the literature, we introduce two crucial extensions of post-hoc explanation techniques: (1) label-free feature importance and (2) label-free example importance that respectively highlight influential features and training examples for a black-box to construct representations at inference time. We demonstrate that our extensions can be successfully implemented as simple wrappers around many existing feature and example importance methods. We illustrate the utility of our label-free explainability paradigm through a qualitative and quantitative comparison of representation spaces learned by various autoencoders trained on distinct unsupervised tasks.

# #927
Towards Theoretical Analysis of Transformation Complexity of ReLU DNNs

Jie Ren · Mingjie Li · Meng Zhou · Shih-Han Chan · Quanshi Zhang

This paper aims to theoretically analyze the complexity of feature transformations encoded in piecewise linear DNNs with ReLU layers. We propose metrics to measure three types of complexities of transformations based on the information theory. We further discover and prove the strong correlation between the complexity and the disentanglement of transformations. Based on the proposed metrics, we analyze two typical phenomena of the change of the transformation complexity during the training process, and explore the ceiling of a DNN's complexity. The proposed metrics can also be used as a loss to learn a DNN with the minimum complexity, which also controls the over-fitting level of the DNN and influences adversarial robustness, adversarial transferability, and knowledge consistency. Comprehensive comparative studies have provided new perspectives to understand the DNN. The code is released at

# #923
A Study of Face Obfuscation in ImageNet

Kaiyu Yang · Jacqueline Yau · Li Fei-Fei · Jia Deng · Olga Russakovsky

Face obfuscation (blurring, mosaicing, etc.) has been shown to be effective for privacy protection; nevertheless, object recognition research typically assumes access to complete, unobfuscated images. In this paper, we explore the effects of face obfuscation on the popular ImageNet challenge visual recognition benchmark. Most categories in the ImageNet challenge are not people categories; however, many incidental people appear in the images, and their privacy is a concern. We first annotate faces in the dataset. Then we demonstrate that face obfuscation has minimal impact on the accuracy of recognition models. Concretely, we benchmark multiple deep neural networks on obfuscated images and observe that the overall recognition accuracy drops only slightly (<= 1.0%). Further, we experiment with transfer learning to 4 downstream tasks (object recognition, scene recognition, face attribute classification, and object detection) and show that features learned on obfuscated images are equally transferable. Our work demonstrates the feasibility of privacy-aware visual recognition, improves the highly-used ImageNet challenge benchmark, and suggests an important path for future visual datasets. Data and code are available at

# #921
Fair Representation Learning through Implicit Path Alignment

Changjian Shui · Qi CHEN · Jiaqi Li · Boyu Wang · Christian Gagne

We consider a fair representation learning perspective, where optimal predictors, on top of the data representation, are ensured to be invariant with respect to different sub-groups. Specifically, we formulate this intuition as a bi-level optimization, where the representation is learned in the outer-loop, and invariant optimal group predictors are updated in the inner-loop. Moreover, the proposed bi-level objective is demonstrated to fulfill the sufficiency rule, which is desirable in various practical scenarios but was not commonly studied in the fair learning. Besides, to avoid the high computational and memory cost of differentiating in the inner-loop of bi-level objective, we propose an implicit path alignment algorithm, which only relies on the solution of inner optimization and the implicit differentiation rather than the exact optimization path. We further analyze the error gap of the implicit approach and empirically validate the proposed method in both classification and regression settings. Experimental results show the consistently better trade-off in prediction performance and fairness measurement.

# #919
Mitigating Neural Network Overconfidence with Logit Normalization

Hongxin Wei · RENCHUNZI XIE · Hao Cheng · LEI FENG · Bo An · Yixuan Li

Detecting out-of-distribution inputs is critical for the safe deployment of machine learning models in the real world. However, neural networks are known to suffer from the overconfidence issue, where they produce abnormally high confidence for both in- and out-of-distribution inputs. In this work, we show that this issue can be mitigated through Logit Normalization (LogitNorm)---a simple fix to the cross-entropy loss---by enforcing a constant vector norm on the logits in training. Our method is motivated by the analysis that the norm of the logit keeps increasing during training, leading to overconfident output. Our key idea behind LogitNorm is thus to decouple the influence of output’s norm during network optimization. Trained with LogitNorm, neural networks produce highly distinguishable confidence scores between in- and out-of-distribution data. Extensive experiments demonstrate the superiority of LogitNorm, reducing the average FPR95 by up to 42.30% on common benchmarks.

# #915
Learning fair representation with a parametric integral probability metric

Dongha Kim · Kunwoong Kim · Insung Kong · Ilsang Ohn · Yongdai Kim

As they have a vital effect on social decision-making, AI algorithms should be not only accurate but also fair. Among various algorithms for fairness AI, learning fair representation (LFR), whose goal is to find a fair representation with respect to sensitive variables such as gender and race, has received much attention. For LFR, the adversarial training scheme is popularly employed as is done in the generative adversarial network type algorithms. The choice of a discriminator, however, is done heuristically without justification. In this paper, we propose a new adversarial training scheme for LFR, where the integral probability metric (IPM) with a specific parametric family of discriminators is used. The most notable result of the proposed LFR algorithm is its theoretical guarantee about the fairness of the final prediction model, which has not been considered yet. That is, we derive theoretical relations between the fairness of representation and the fairness of the prediction model built on the top of the representation (i.e., using the representation as the input). Moreover, by numerical experiments, we show that our proposed LFR algorithm is computationally lighter and more stable, and the final prediction model is competitive or superior to other LFR algorithms using more complex discriminators.

# #913
Outstanding Paper
Privacy for Free: How does Dataset Condensation Help Privacy?

Tian Dong · Bo Zhao · Lingjuan Lyu

To prevent unintentional data leakage, research community has resorted to data generators that can produce differentially private data for model training. However, for the sake of the data privacy, existing solutions suffer from either expensive training cost or poor generalization performance. Therefore, we raise the question whether training efficiency and privacy can be achieved simultaneously. In this work, we for the first time identify that dataset condensation (DC) which is originally designed for improving training efficiency is also a better solution to replace the traditional data generators for private data generation, thus providing privacy for free. To demonstrate the privacy benefit of DC, we build a connection between DC and differential privacy, and theoretically prove on linear feature extractors (and then extended to non-linear feature extractors) that the existence of one sample has limited impact ($O(m/n)$) on the parameter distribution of networks trained on $m$ samples synthesized from $n (n \gg m)$ raw samples by DC. We also empirically validate the visual privacy and membership privacy of DC-synthesized data by launching both the loss-based and the state-of-the-art likelihood-based membership inference attacks. We envision this work as a milestone for data-efficient and privacy-preserving machine learning.

# #911
Fair Generalized Linear Models with a Convex Penalty

Hyungrok Do · Preston Putzel · Axel Martin · Padhraic Smyth · Judy Zhong

Despite recent advances in algorithmic fairness, methodologies for achieving fairness with generalized linear models (GLMs) have yet to be explored in general, despite GLMs being widely used in practice. In this paper we introduce two fairness criteria for GLMs based on equalizing expected outcomes or log-likelihoods. We prove that for GLMs both criteria can be achieved via a convex penalty term based solely on the linear components of the GLM, thus permitting efficient optimization. We also derive theoretical properties for the resulting fair GLM estimator. To empirically demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed fair GLM, we compare it with other well-known fair prediction methods on an extensive set of benchmark datasets for binary classification and regression. In addition, we demonstrate that the fair GLM can generate fair predictions for a range of response variables, other than binary and continuous outcomes.

# #909
Tight and Robust Private Mean Estimation with Few Users

Shyam Narayanan · Vahab Mirrokni · Hossein Esfandiari

In this work, we study high-dimensional mean estimation under user-level differential privacy, and design an $(\varepsilon,\delta)$-differentially private mechanism using as few users as possible. In particular, we provide a nearly optimal trade-off between the number of users and the number of samples per user required for private mean estimation, even when the number of users is as low as $O(\frac{1}{\varepsilon}\log\frac{1}{\delta})$. Interestingly, this bound on the number of \emph{users} is independent of the dimension (though the number of \emph{samples per user} is allowed to depend polynomially on the dimension), unlike the previous work that requires the number of users to depend polynomially on the dimension. This resolves a problem first proposed by Amin et al. (2019). Moreover, our mechanism is robust against corruptions in up to $49\%$ of the users. Finally, our results also apply to optimal algorithms for privately learning discrete distributions with few users, answering a question of Liu et al. (2020), and a broader range of problems such as stochastic convex optimization and a variant of stochastic gradient descent via a reduction to differentially private mean estimation.

# #907
QSFL: A Two-Level Uplink Communication Optimization Framework for Federated Learning

Liping Yi · Wang Gang · Liu Xiaoguang

In cross-device Federated Learning (FL), the communication cost of transmitting full-precision models between edge devices and a central server is a significant bottleneck, due to expensive, unreliable, and low-bandwidth wireless connections. As a solution, we propose a novel FL framework named QSFL, towards optimizing FL uplink (client-to-server) communication at both client and model levels. At the client level, we design a Qualification Judgment (QJ) algorithm to sample high-qualification clients to upload models. At the model level, we explore a Sparse Cyclic Sliding Segment (SCSS) algorithm to further compress transmitted models. We prove that QSFL can converge over wall-to-wall time, and develop an optimal hyperparameter searching algorithm based on theoretical analysis to enable QSFL to make the best trade-off between model accuracy and communication cost. Experimental results show that QSFL achieves state-of-the-art compression ratios with marginal model accuracy degradation.

# #905
Robustness and Accuracy Could Be Reconcilable by (Proper) Definition

Tianyu Pang · Min Lin · Xiao Yang · Jun Zhu · Shuicheng Yan

The trade-off between robustness and accuracy has been widely studied in the adversarial literature. Although still controversial, the prevailing view is that this trade-off is inherent, either empirically or theoretically. Thus, we dig for the origin of this trade-off in adversarial training and find that it may stem from the improperly defined robust error, which imposes an inductive bias of local invariance --- an overcorrection towards smoothness. Given this, we advocate employing local equivariance to describe the ideal behavior of a robust model, leading to a self-consistent robust error named SCORE. By definition, SCORE facilitates the reconciliation between robustness and accuracy, while still handling the worst-case uncertainty via robust optimization. By simply substituting KL divergence with variants of distance metrics, SCORE can be efficiently minimized. Empirically, our models achieve top-rank performance on RobustBench under AutoAttack. Besides, SCORE provides instructive insights for explaining the overfitting phenomenon and semantic input gradients observed on robust models.

# #903
Sanity Simulations for Saliency Methods

Joon Kim · Gregory Plumb · Ameet Talwalkar

Saliency methods are a popular class of feature attribution explanation methods that aim to capture a model's predictive reasoning by identifying "important" pixels in an input image. However, the development and adoption of these methods are hindered by the lack of access to ground-truth model reasoning, which prevents accurate evaluation. In this work, we design a synthetic benchmarking framework, SMERF, that allows us to perform ground-truth-based evaluation while controlling the complexity of the model's reasoning. Experimentally, SMERF reveals significant limitations in existing saliency methods and, as a result, represents a useful tool for the development of new saliency methods.

# #1002
Out-of-Distribution Detection with Deep Nearest Neighbors

Yiyou Sun · Yifei Ming · Jerry Zhu · Yixuan Li

Out-of-distribution (OOD) detection is a critical task for deploying machine learning models in the open world. Distance-based methods have demonstrated promise, where testing samples are detected as OOD if they are relatively far away from in-distribution (ID) data. However, prior methods impose a strong distributional assumption of the underlying feature space, which may not always hold. In this paper, we explore the efficacy of non-parametric nearest-neighbor distance for OOD detection, which has been largely overlooked in the literature. Unlike prior works, our method does not impose any distributional assumption, hence providing stronger flexibility and generality. We demonstrate the effectiveness of nearest-neighbor-based OOD detection on several benchmarks and establish superior performance. Under the same model trained on ImageNet-1k, our method substantially reduces the false positive rate (FPR@TPR95) by 24.77% compared to a strong baseline SSD+, which uses a parametric approach Mahalanobis distance in detection. Code is available:

# #1004
Differentially Private Maximal Information Coefficients

John Lazarsfeld · Aaron Johnson · Emmanuel Adeniran

The Maximal Information Coefficient (MIC) is a powerful statistic to identify dependencies between variables. However, it may be applied to sensitive data, and publishing it could leak private information. As a solution, we present algorithms to approximate MIC in a way that provides differential privacy. We show that the natural application of the classic Laplace mechanism yields insufficient accuracy. We therefore introduce the MICr statistic, which is a new MIC approximation that is more compatible with differential privacy. We prove MICr is a consistent estimator for MIC, and we provide two differentially private versions of it. We perform experiments on a variety of real and synthetic datasets. The results show that the private MICr statistics significantly outperform direct application of the Laplace mechanism. Moreover, experiments on real-world datasets show accuracy that is usable when the sample size is at least moderately large.

# #1006
Improved Rates for Differentially Private Stochastic Convex Optimization with Heavy-Tailed Data

Gautam Kamath · Xingtu Liu · Huanyu Zhang

We study stochastic convex optimization with heavy-tailed data under the constraint of differential privacy (DP). Most prior work on this problem is restricted to the case where the loss function is Lipschitz. Instead, as introduced by Wang, Xiao, Devadas, and Xu~\cite{WangXDX20}, we study general convex loss functions with the assumption that the distribution of gradients has bounded $k$-th moments. We provide improved upper bounds on the excess population risk under concentrated DP for convex and strongly convex loss functions. Along the way, we derive new algorithms for private mean estimation of heavy-tailed distributions, under both pure and concentrated DP. Finally, we prove nearly-matching lower bounds for private stochastic convex optimization with strongly convex losses and mean estimation, showing new separations between pure and concentrated DP.

# #1008
On the Difficulty of Defending Self-Supervised Learning against Model Extraction

Adam Dziedzic · Nikita Dhawan · Muhammad Ahmad Kaleem · Jonas Guan · Nicolas Papernot

Self-Supervised Learning (SSL) is an increasingly popular ML paradigm that trains models to transform complex inputs into representations without relying on explicit labels. These representations encode similarity structures that enable efficient learning of multiple downstream tasks. Recently, ML-as-a-Service providers have commenced offering trained SSL models over inference APIs, which transform user inputs into useful representations for a fee. However, the high cost involved to train these models and their exposure over APIs both make black-box extraction a realistic security threat. We thus explore model stealing attacks against SSL. Unlike traditional model extraction on classifiers that output labels, the victim models here output representations; these representations are of significantly higher dimensionality compared to the low-dimensional prediction scores output by classifiers. We construct several novel attacks and find that approaches that train directly on a victim's stolen representations are query efficient and enable high accuracy for downstream models. We then show that existing defenses against model extraction are inadequate and not easily retrofitted to the specificities of SSL.

# #1010
Adversarial Attack and Defense for Non-Parametric Two-Sample Tests

Xilie Xu · Jingfeng Zhang · Feng Liu · Masashi Sugiyama · Mohan Kankanhalli

Non-parametric two-sample tests (TSTs) that judge whether two sets of samples are drawn from the same distribution, have been widely used in the analysis of critical data. People tend to employ TSTs as trusted basic tools and rarely have any doubt about their reliability. This paper systematically uncovers the failure mode of non-parametric TSTs through adversarial attacks and then proposes corresponding defense strategies. First, we theoretically show that an adversary can upper-bound the distributional shift which guarantees the attack's invisibility. Furthermore, we theoretically find that the adversary can also degrade the lower bound of a TST's test power, which enables us to iteratively minimize the test criterion in order to search for adversarial pairs. To enable TST-agnostic attacks, we propose an ensemble attack (EA) framework that jointly minimizes the different types of test criteria. Second, to robustify TSTs, we propose a max-min optimization that iteratively generates adversarial pairs to train the deep kernels. Extensive experiments on both simulated and real-world datasets validate the adversarial vulnerabilities of non-parametric TSTs and the effectiveness of our proposed defense. Source code is available at

# #1012
Certified Adversarial Robustness Under the Bounded Support Set

Yiwen Kou · Qinyuan Zheng · Yisen Wang

Deep neural networks (DNNs) have revealed severe vulnerability to adversarial perturbations, beside empirical adversarial training for robustness, the design of provably robust classifiers attracts more and more attention. Randomized smoothing methods provide the certified robustness with agnostic architecture, which is further extended to a provable robustness framework using f-divergence. While these methods cannot be applied to smoothing measures with bounded support set such as uniform probability measure due to the use of likelihood ratio in their certification methods. In this paper, we generalize the $f$-divergence-based framework to a Wasserstein-distance-based and total-variation-distance-based framework that is first able to analyze robustness properties of bounded support set smoothing measures both theoretically and experimentally. By applying our methodology to uniform probability measures with support set $l_p (p=1,2,\infty\text{ and general})$ ball, we prove negative certified robustness properties with respect to $l_q (q=1, 2, \infty)$ perturbations and present experimental results on CIFAR-10 dataset with ResNet to validate our theory. And it is also worth mentioning that our certification procedure only costs constant computation time.

# #1014
Predicting Out-of-Distribution Error with the Projection Norm

Yaodong Yu · Zitong Yang · Alexander Wei · Yi Ma · Jacob Steinhardt

We propose a metric---\emph{Projection Norm}---to predict a model's performance on out-of-distribution (OOD) data without access to ground truth labels. Projection Norm first uses model predictions to pseudo-label test samples and then trains a new model on the pseudo-labels. The more the new model's parameters differ from an in-distribution model, the greater the predicted OOD error. Empirically, our approach outperforms existing methods on both image and text classification tasks and across different network architectures. Theoretically, we connect our approach to a bound on the test error for overparameterized linear models. Furthermore, we find that Projection Norm is the only approach that achieves non-trivial detection performance on adversarial examples. Our code is available at \url{}.

# #1018
Adversarially Robust Models may not Transfer Better: Sufficient Conditions for Domain Transferability from the View of Regularization

Xiaojun Xu · Yibo Zhang · Evelyn Ma · Hyun Ho Son · Sanmi Koyejo · Bo Li

Machine learning (ML) robustness and domain generalization are fundamentally correlated: they essentially concern data distribution shifts under adversarial and natural settings, respectively. On one hand, recent studies show that more robust (adversarially trained) models are more generalizable. On the other hand, there is a lack of theoretical understanding of their fundamental connections. In this paper, we explore the relationship between regularization and domain transferability considering different factors such as norm regularization and data augmentations (DA). We propose a general theoretical framework proving that factors involving the model function class regularization are sufficient conditions for relative domain transferability. Our analysis implies that ``robustness" is neither necessary nor sufficient for transferability; rather, regularization is a more fundamental perspective for understanding domain transferability. We then discuss popular DA protocols (including adversarial training) and show when they can be viewed as the function class regularization under certain conditions and therefore improve generalization. We conduct extensive experiments to verify our theoretical findings and show several counterexamples where robustness and generalization are negatively correlated on different datasets.

# #1020
Improved Regret for Differentially Private Exploration in Linear MDP

Dung Ngo · Giuseppe Vietri · Steven Wu

We study privacy-preserving exploration in sequential decision-making for environments that rely on sensitive data such as medical records. In particular, we focus on solving the problem of reinforcement learning (RL) subject to the constraint of (joint) differential privacy in the linear MDP setting, where both dynamics and rewards are given by linear functions. Prior work on this problem due to (Luyo et al., 2021) achieves a regret rate that has a dependence of O(K^{3/5}) on the number of episodes K. We provide a private algorithm with an improved regret rate with an optimal dependence of O(√K) on the number of episodes. The key recipe for our stronger regret guarantee is the adaptivity in the policy update schedule, in which an update only occurs when sufficient changes in the data are detected. As a result, our algorithm benefits from low switching cost and only performs O(log(K)) updates, which greatly reduces the amount of privacy noise. Finally, in the most prevalent privacy regimes where the privacy parameter \epsilon is a constant, our algorithm incurs negligible privacy cost—in comparison with the existing non-private regret bounds, the additional regret due to privacy appears in lower-order terms.

# #1022
Differentially Private Community Detection for Stochastic Block Models

Mohamed Mohamed · Dung Nguyen · Anil Vullikanti · Ravi Tandon

The goal of community detection over graphs is to recover underlying labels/attributes of users (e.g., political affiliation) given the connectivity between users. There has been significant recent progress on understanding the fundamental limits of community detection when the graph is generated from a stochastic block model (SBM). Specifically, sharp information theoretic limits and efficient algorithms have been obtained for SBMs as a function of $p$ and $q$, which represent the intra-community and inter-community connection probabilities. In this paper, we study the community detection problem while preserving the privacy of the individual connections between the vertices. Focusing on the notion of $(\epsilon, \delta)$-edge differential privacy (DP), we seek to understand the fundamental tradeoffs between $(p, q)$, DP budget $(\epsilon, \delta)$, and computational efficiency for exact recovery of community labels. To this end, we present and analyze the associated information-theoretic tradeoffs for three differentially private community recovery mechanisms: a) stability based mechanism; b) sampling based mechanisms; and c) graph perturbation mechanisms.Our main findings are that stability and sampling based mechanisms lead to a superior tradeoff between $(p,q)$ and the privacy budget $(\epsilon, \delta)$; however this comes at the expense of higher computational complexity. On the other hand, albeit low complexity, graph perturbation mechanisms require the privacy budget $\epsilon$ to scale as $\Omega(\log(n))$ for exact recovery.

# #1026
Understanding Clipping for Federated Learning: Convergence and Client-Level Differential Privacy

xinwei zhang · Xiangyi Chen · Mingyi Hong · Steven Wu · Jinfeng Yi

Providing privacy protection has been one of the primary motivations of Federated Learning (FL). Recently, there has been a line of work on incorporating the formal privacy notion of differential privacy with FL. To guarantee the client-level differential privacy in FL algorithms, the clients' transmitted model updates have to be clipped before adding privacy noise. Such clipping operation is substantially different from its counterpart of gradient clipping in the centralized differentially private SGD and has not been well-understood. In this paper, we first empirically demonstrate that the clipped FedAvg can perform surprisingly well even with substantial data heterogeneity when training neural networks, which is partly because the clients' updates become similar for several popular deep architectures. Based on this key observation, we provide the convergence analysis of a differential private (DP) FedAvg algorithm and highlight the relationship between clipping bias and the distribution of the clients' updates. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that rigorously investigates theoretical and empirical issues regarding the clipping operation in FL algorithms.

# #1028
Hermite Polynomial Features for Private Data Generation

Margarita Vinaroz · Mohammad-Amin Charusaie · Frederik Harder · Kamil Adamczewski · Mi Jung Park

Kernel mean embedding is a useful tool to compare probability measures. Despite its usefulness, kernel mean embedding considers infinite-dimensional features, which are challenging to handle in the context of differentially private datageneration. A recent work, DP-MERF (Harder et al., 2021), proposes to approximate the kernel mean embedding of data distribution using finite-dimensional random features, which yields an analytically tractable sensitivity of approximate kernel mean embedding. However, the requirednumber of random features in DP-MERF is excessively high, often ten thousand to a hundred thousand, which worsens the sensitivity of the approximate kernel mean embedding. To improve the sensitivity, we propose to replace random features with Hermite polynomial features. Unlike the random features, the Hermite polynomial features are ordered, where the features at the low orders contain more information on the distribution than those at the high orders. Hence, a relatively low order of Hermite polynomial features can more accurately approximate the mean embedding of the data distribution compared to a significantly higher number of random features. As a result, the Hermite polynomial features helpus to improve the privacy-accuracy trade-off compared to DP-MERF, as demonstrated on several heterogeneous tabular datasets, as well as severalimage benchmark datasets.

# #1027
How to Steer Your Adversary: Targeted and Efficient Model Stealing Defenses with Gradient Redirection

Mantas Mazeika · Bo Li · David Forsyth

Model stealing attacks present a dilemma for public machine learning APIs. To protect financial investments, companies may be forced to withhold important information about their models that could facilitate theft, including uncertainty estimates and prediction explanations. This compromise is harmful not only to users but also to external transparency. Model stealing defenses seek to resolve this dilemma by making models harder to steal while preserving utility for benign users. However, existing defenses have poor performance in practice, either requiring enormous computational overheads or severe utility trade-offs. To meet these challenges, we present a new approach to model stealing defenses called gradient redirection. At the core of our approach is a provably optimal, efficient algorithm for steering an adversary's training updates in a targeted manner. Combined with improvements to surrogate networks and a novel coordinated defense strategy, our gradient redirection defense, called GRAD^2, achieves small utility trade-offs and low computational overhead, outperforming the best prior defenses. Moreover, we demonstrate how gradient redirection enables reprogramming the adversary with arbitrary behavior, which we hope will foster work on new avenues of defense.

# #1025
Deduplicating Training Data Mitigates Privacy Risks in Language Models

Nikhil Kandpal · Eric Wallace · Colin Raffel

Past work has shown that large language models are susceptible to privacy attacks, where adversaries generate sequences from a trained model and detect which sequences are memorized from the training set. In this work, we show that the success of these attacks is largely due to duplication in commonly used web-scraped training sets. We first show that the rate at which language models regenerate training sequences is superlinearly related to a sequence's count in the training set. For instance, a sequence that is present 10 times in the training data is on average generated 1000x more often than a sequence that is present only once. We next show that existing methods for detecting memorized sequences have near-chance accuracy on non-duplicated training sequences. Finally, we find that after applying methods to deduplicate training data, language models are considerably more secure against these types of privacy attacks. Taken together, our results motivate an increased focus on deduplication in privacy-sensitive applications and a reevaluation of the practicality of existing privacy attacks.

# #1023
Private frequency estimation via projective geometry

Vitaly Feldman · Jelani Nelson · Huy Nguyen · Kunal Talwar

In this work, we propose a new algorithm ProjectiveGeometryResponse (PGR) for locally differentially private (LDP) frequency estimation. For universe size of k and with n users, our eps-LDP algorithm has communication cost ceil(log_2 k) and computation cost O(n + k\exp(eps) log k) for the server to approximately reconstruct the frequency histogram, while achieve optimal privacy-utility tradeoff. In many practical settings this is a significant improvement over the O~(n+k^2) computation cost that is achieved by the recent PI-RAPPOR algorithm (Feldman and Talwar; 2021). Our empirical evaluation shows a speedup of over 50x over PI-RAPPOR while using approximately 75x less memory. In addition, the running time of our algorithm is comparable to that of HadamardResponse (Acharya, Sun, and Zhang; 2019) and RecursiveHadamardResponse (Chen, Kairouz, and Ozgur; 2020) which have significantly worse reconstruction error. The error of our algorithm essentially matches that of the communication- and time-inefficient but utility-optimal SubsetSelection (SS) algorithm (Ye and Barg; 2017). Our new algorithm is based on using Projective Planes over a finite field to define a small collection of sets that are close to being pairwise independent and a dynamic programming algorithm for approximate histogram reconstruction for the server.

# #1021
The Poisson Binomial Mechanism for Unbiased Federated Learning with Secure Aggregation

Wei-Ning Chen · Ayfer Ozgur · Peter Kairouz

We introduce the Poisson Binomial mechanism (PBM), a discrete differential privacy mechanism for distributed mean estimation (DME) with applications to federated learning and analytics. We provide a tight analysis of its privacy guarantees, showing that it achieves the same privacy-accuracy trade-offs as the continuous Gaussian mechanism. Our analysis is based on a novel bound on the R\'enyi divergence of two Poisson binomial distributions that may be of independent interest. Unlike previous discrete DP schemes based on additive noise, our mechanism encodes local information into a parameter of the binomial distribution, and hence the output distribution is discrete with bounded support. Moreover, the support does not increase as the privacy budget goes to zero as in the case of additive schemes which require the addition of more noise to achieve higher privacy; on the contrary, the support becomes smaller as eps goes to zero. The bounded support enables us to combine our mechanism with secure aggregation (SecAgg), a multi-party cryptographic protocol, without the need of performing modular clipping which results in an unbiased estimator of the sum of the local vectors. This in turn allows us to apply it in the private FL setting and provide an upper bound on the convergence rate of the SGD algorithm. Moreover, since the support of the output distribution becomes smaller as $\varepsilon \ra 0$, the communication cost of our scheme decreases with the privacy constraint $\varepsilon$, outperforming all previous distributed DP schemes based on additive noise in the high privacy or low communication regimes.

# #1019
Faster Privacy Accounting via Evolving Discretization

Badih Ghazi · Pritish Kamath · Ravi Kumar · Pasin Manurangsi

We introduce a new algorithm for numerical composition of privacy random variables, useful for computing the accurate differential privacy parameters for compositions of mechanisms.Our algorithm achieves a running time and memory usage of $polylog(k)$ for the task of self-composing amechanism, from a broad class of mechanisms, $k$ times; this class, e.g., includes the sub-sampled Gaussian mechanism, that appears in the analysis of differentially private stochastic gradient descent (DP-SGD).By comparison, recent work by Gopi et al. (NeurIPS 2021) has obtained a running time of $\widetilde{O}(\sqrt{k})$ for the same task.Our approach extends to the case of composing $k$ different mechanisms in the same class, improving upon the running time and memory usage in their work from $\widetilde{O}(k^{1.5})$ to $\wtilde{O}(k)$.

# #1017
The Fundamental Price of Secure Aggregation in Differentially Private Federated Learning

Wei-Ning Chen · Christopher Choquette Choo · Peter Kairouz · Ananda Suresh

We consider the problem of training a $d$ dimensional model with distributed differential privacy (DP) where secure aggregation (SecAgg) is used to ensure that the server only sees the noisy sum of $n$ model updates in every training round. Taking into account the constraints imposed by SecAgg, we characterize the fundamental communication cost required to obtain the best accuracy achievable under $\varepsilon$ central DP (i.e. under a fully trusted server and no communication constraints). Our results show that $\tilde{O}\lp \min(n^2\varepsilon^2, d) \rp$ bits per client are both sufficient and necessary, and this fundamental limit can be achieved by a linear scheme based on sparse random projections. This provides a significant improvement relative to state-of-the-art SecAgg distributed DP schemes which use $\tilde{O}(d\log(d/\varepsilon^2))$ bits per client. Empirically, we evaluate our proposed scheme on real-world federated learning tasks. We find that our theoretical analysis is well matched in practice. In particular, we show that we can reduce the communication cost to under $1.78$ bits per parameter in realistic privacy settings without decreasing test-time performance. Our work hence theoretically and empirically specifies the fundamental price of using SecAgg.

# #1015
Private Adaptive Optimization with Side information

Tian Li · Manzil Zaheer · Sashank Jakkam Reddi · Virginia Smith

Adaptive optimization methods have become the default solvers for many machine learning tasks. Unfortunately, the benefits of adaptivity may degrade when training with differential privacy, as the noise added to ensure privacy reduces the effectiveness of the adaptive preconditioner. To this end, we propose AdaDPS, a general framework that uses non-sensitive side information to precondition the gradients, allowing the effective use of adaptive methods in private settings. We formally show AdaDPS reduces the amount of noise needed to achieve similar privacy guarantees, thereby improving optimization performance. Empirically, we leverage simple and readily available side information to explore the performance of AdaDPS in practice, comparing to strong baselines in both centralized and federated settings. Our results show that AdaDPS improves accuracy by 7.7% (absolute) on average---yielding state-of-the-art privacy-utility trade-offs on large-scale text and image benchmarks.

# #1013
Secure Quantized Training for Deep Learning

Marcel Keller · Ke Sun

We implement training of neural networks in secure multi-partycomputation (MPC) using quantization commonly used in said setting. Weare the first to present an MNIST classifier purely trained in MPCthat comes within 0.2 percent of the accuracy of the sameconvolutional neural network trained via plaintext computation. Moreconcretely, we have trained a network with two convolutional and twodense layers to 99.2% accuracy in 3.5 hours (under one hour for 99%accuracy). We have also implemented AlexNet for CIFAR-10, whichconverges in a few hours. We develop novel protocols forexponentiation and inverse square root. Finally, we presentexperiments in a range of MPC security models for up to ten parties,both with honest and dishonest majority as well as semi-honest andmalicious security.

# #1011
Private optimization in the interpolation regime: faster rates and hardness results

Hilal Asi · Karan Chadha · Gary Cheng · John Duchi

In non-private stochastic convex optimization, stochastic gradient methods converge much faster on interpolation problems---namely, problems where there exists a solution that simultaneously minimizes all of the sample losses---than on non-interpolating ones;similar improvements are not known in the private setting. In this paper, we investigate differentially private stochastic optimization in the interpolation regime. First, we show that without additional assumptions, interpolation problems do not exhibit an improved convergence rates with differential privacy. However, when the functions exhibit quadratic growth around the optimum, we show (near) exponential improvements in the private sample complexity. In particular, we propose an adaptive algorithm that improves the sample complexity to achieve expected error $\alpha$ from $\frac{d}{\diffp \sqrt{\alpha}}$ to $\frac{1}{\alpha^\rho} + \frac{d}{\diffp} \log\paren{\frac{1}{\alpha}}$ for any fixed $\rho >0$, while retaining the standard minimax-optimal sample complexity for non-interpolation problems. We prove a lower bound that shows the dimension-dependent term in the expression above is tight. Furthermore, we provide a superefficiency result which demonstrates the necessity of the polynomial term for adaptive algorithms: any algorithm that has a polylogarithmic sample complexity for interpolation problems cannot achieve the minimax-optimal rates for the family of non-interpolation problems.

# #1009
Differentially Private Coordinate Descent for Composite Empirical Risk Minimization

Paul Mangold · Aurélien Bellet · Joseph Salmon · Marc Tommasi

Machine learning models can leak information about the data used to train them. To mitigate this issue, Differentially Private (DP) variants of optimization algorithms like Stochastic Gradient Descent (DP-SGD) have been designed to trade-off utility for privacy in Empirical Risk Minimization (ERM) problems. In this paper, we propose Differentially Private proximal Coordinate Descent (DP-CD), a new method to solve composite DP-ERM problems. We derive utility guarantees through a novel theoretical analysis of inexact coordinate descent. Our results show that, thanks to larger step sizes, DP-CD can exploit imbalance in gradient coordinates to outperform DP-SGD. We also prove new lower bounds for composite DP-ERM under coordinate-wise regularity assumptions, that are nearly matched by DP-CD. For practical implementations, we propose to clip gradients using coordinate-wise thresholds that emerge from our theory, avoiding costly hyperparameter tuning. Experiments on real and synthetic data support our results, and show that DP-CD compares favorably with DP-SGD.

# #1007
Private Streaming SCO in $\ell_p$ geometry with Applications in High Dimensional Online Decision Making

Yuxuan Han · Zhicong Liang · Zhipeng Liang · Yang Wang · Yuan Yao · Jiheng Zhang

Differentially private (DP) stochastic convex optimization (SCO) is ubiquitous in trustworthy machine learning algorithm design.This paper studies the DP-SCO problem with streaming data sampled from a distribution and arrives sequentially.We also consider the continual release model where parameters related to private information are updated and released upon each new data.Numerous algorithms have been developed to achieve optimal excess risks in different $\ell_p$ norm geometries, but none of the existing ones can be adapted to the streaming and continual release setting.We propose a private variant of the Frank-Wolfe algorithm with recursive gradients for variance reduction to update and reveal the parameters upon each data.Combined with the adaptive DP analysis, our algorithm achieves the first optimal excess risk in linear time in the case $1

# #1001
Learning Domain Adaptive Object Detection with Probabilistic Teacher

Meilin Chen · Weijie Chen · Shicai Yang · Jie Song · Xinchao Wang · Lei Zhang · Yunfeng Yan · Donglian Qi · Yueting Zhuang · Di Xie · Shiliang Pu

Self-training for unsupervised domain adaptive object detection is a challenging task, of which the performance depends heavily on the quality of pseudo boxes. Despite the promising results, prior works have largely overlooked the uncertainty of pseudo boxes during self-training. In this paper, we present a simple yet effective framework, termed as Probabilistic Teacher (PT), which aims to capture the uncertainty of unlabeled target data from a gradually evolving teacher and guides the learning of a student in a mutually beneficial manner. Specifically, we propose to leverage the uncertainty-guided consistency training to promote classification adaptation and localization adaptation, rather than filtering pseudo boxes via an elaborate confidence threshold. In addition, we conduct anchor adaptation in parallel with localization adaptation, since anchor can be regarded as a learnable parameter. Together with this framework, we also present a novel Entropy Focal Loss (EFL) to further facilitate the uncertainty-guided self-training. Equipped with EFL, PT outperforms all previous baselines by a large margin and achieve new state-of-the-arts.

# #1003
Adaptive Data Analysis with Correlated Observations

Aryeh Kontorovich · Menachem Sadigurschi · Uri Stemmer

The vast majority of the work on adaptive data analysis focuses on the case where the samples in the dataset are independent. Several approaches and tools have been successfully applied in this context, such as {\em differential privacy}, {\em max-information}, {\em compression arguments}, and more. The situation is far less well-understood without the independence assumption. We embark on a systematic study of the possibilities of adaptive data analysis with correlated observations. First, we show that, in some cases, differential privacy guarantees generalization even when there are dependencies within the sample, which we quantify using a notion we call {\em Gibbs-dependence}. We complement this result with a tight negative example.%Second, we show that the connection between transcript-compression and adaptive data analysis can be extended to the non-iid setting.

# #1106
Efficient PAC Learning from the Crowd with Pairwise Comparisons

Shiwei Zeng · Jie Shen

We study crowdsourced PAC learning of threshold function, where the labels are gathered from a pool of annotators some of whom may behave adversarially. This is yet a challenging problem and until recently has computationally and query efficient PAC learning algorithm been established by Awasthi et al. (2017). In this paper, we show that by leveraging the more easily acquired pairwise comparison queries, it is possible to exponentially reduce the label complexity while retaining the overall query complexity and runtime. Our main algorithmic contributions are a comparison-equipped labeling scheme that can faithfully recover the true labels of a small set of instances, and a label-efficient filtering process that in conjunction with the small labeled set can reliably infer the true labels of a large instance set.

# #1108
On the Statistical Benefits of Curriculum Learning

Ziping Xu · Ambuj Tewari

Curriculum learning (CL) is a commonly used machine learning training strategy. However, we still lack a clear theoretical understanding of CL's benefits. In this paper, we study the benefits of CL in the multitask linear regression problem under both structured and unstructured settings. For both settings, we derive the minimax rates for CL with the oracle that provides the optimal curriculum and without the oracle, where the agent has to adaptively learn a good curriculum. Our results reveal that adaptive learning can be fundamentally harder than the oracle learning in the unstructured setting, but it merely introduces a small extra term in the structured setting. To connect theory with practice, we provide justification for a popular empirical method that selects tasks with highest local prediction gain by comparing its guarantees with the minimax rates mentioned above.

# #1110
Feature and Parameter Selection in Stochastic Linear Bandits

Ahmadreza Moradipari · Berkay Turan · Yasin Abbasi-Yadkori · Mahnoosh Alizadeh · Mohammad Ghavamzadeh

We study two model selection settings in stochastic linear bandits (LB). In the first setting, which we refer to as feature selection, the expected reward of the LB problem is in the linear span of at least one of $M$ feature maps (models). In the second setting, the reward parameter of the LB problem is arbitrarily selected from $M$ models represented as (possibly) overlapping balls in $\mathbb R^d$. However, the agent only has access to misspecified models, i.e., estimates of the centers and radii of the balls. We refer to this setting as parameter selection. For each setting, we develop and analyze a computationally efficient algorithm that is based on a reduction from bandits to full-information problems. This allows us to obtain regret bounds that are not worse (up to a $\sqrt{\log M}$ factor) than the case where the true model is known. This is the best reported dependence on the number of models $M$ in these settings. Finally, we empirically show the effectiveness of our algorithms using synthetic and real-world experiments.

# #1112
Disentangled Federated Learning for Tackling Attributes Skew via Invariant Aggregation and Diversity Transferring

Zhengquan Luo · Yunlong Wang · Zilei Wang · Zhenan Sun · Tieniu Tan

Attributes skew hinders the current federated learning (FL) frameworks from consistent optimization directions among the clients, which inevitably leads to performance reduction and unstable convergence. The core problems lie in that: 1) Domain-specific attributes, which are non-causal and only locally valid, are indeliberately mixed into global aggregation. 2) The one-stage optimizations of entangled attributes cannot simultaneously satisfy two conflicting objectives, i.e., generalization and personalization. To cope with these, we proposed disentangled federated learning (DFL) to disentangle the domain-specific and cross-invariant attributes into two complementary branches, which are trained by the proposed alternating local-global optimization independently. Importantly, convergence analysis proves that the FL system can be stably converged even if incomplete client models participate in the global aggregation, which greatly expands the application scope of FL. Extensive experiments verify that DFL facilitates FL with higher performance, better interpretability, and faster convergence rate, compared with SOTA FL methods on both manually synthesized and realistic attributes skew datasets.

# #1114
A new similarity measure for covariate shift with applications to nonparametric regression

Reese Pathak · Cong Ma · Martin Wainwright

We study covariate shift in the context of nonparametric regression. We introduce a new measure of distribution mismatch between the source and target distributions using the integrated ratio of probabilities of balls at a given radius. We use the scaling of this measure with respect to the radius to characterize the minimax rate of estimation over a family of Hölder continuous functions under covariate shift. In comparison to the recently proposed notion of transfer exponent, this measure leads to a sharper rate of convergence and is more fine-grained. We accompany our theory with concrete instances of covariate shift that illustrate this sharp difference.

# #1116
Contextual Bandits with Large Action Spaces: Made Practical

Yinglun Zhu · Dylan Foster · John Langford · Paul Mineiro

A central problem in sequential decision making is to develop algorithms that are practical and computationally efficient, yet support the use of flexible, general-purpose models. Focusing on the contextual bandit problem, recent progress provides provably efficient algorithms with strong empirical performance when the number of possible alternatives (``actions'') is small, but guarantees for decision making in large, continuous action spaces have remained elusive, leading to a significant gap between theory and practice. We present the first efficient, general-purpose algorithm for contextual bandits with continuous, linearly structured action spaces. Our algorithm makes use of computational oracles for (i) supervised learning, and (ii) optimization over the action space, and achieves sample complexity, runtime, and memory independent of the size of the action space. In addition, it is simple and practical. We perform a large-scale empirical evaluation, and show that our approach typically enjoys superior performance and efficiency compared to standard baselines.

# #1118
Identifiability Conditions for Domain Adaptation

Ishaan Gulrajani · Tatsunori Hashimoto

Domain adaptation algorithms and theory have relied upon an assumption that the observed data uniquely specify the correct correspondence between the domains. Unfortunately, it is unclear under what conditions this identifiability assumption holds, even when restricting ourselves to the case where a correct bijective map between domains exists. We study this bijective domain mapping problem and provide several new sufficient conditions for the identifiability of linear domain maps. As a consequence of our analysis, we show that weak constraints on the third moment tensor suffice for identifiability, prove identifiability for common latent variable models such as topic models, and give a computationally tractable method for generating certificates for the identifiability of linear maps. Inspired by our certification method, we derive a new objective function for domain mapping that explicitly accounts for uncertainty over maps arising from unidentifiability. We demonstrate that our objective leads to improvements in uncertainty quantification and model performance estimation.

# #1120
Streaming Algorithms for High-Dimensional Robust Statistics

Ilias Diakonikolas · Daniel Kane · Ankit Pensia · Thanasis Pittas

We study high-dimensional robust statistics tasks in the streaming model. A recent line of work obtained computationally efficient algorithms for a range of high-dimensional robust statistics tasks. Unfortunately, all previous algorithms require storing the entire dataset, incurring memory at least quadratic in the dimension. In this work, we develop the first efficient streaming algorithms for high-dimensional robust statistics with near-optimal memory requirements (up to logarithmic factors). Our main result is for the task of high-dimensional robust mean estimation in (a strengthening of) Huber's contamination model. We give an efficient single-pass streaming algorithm for this task with near-optimal error guarantees and space complexity nearly-linear in the dimension. As a corollary, we obtain streaming algorithms with near-optimal space complexity for several more complex tasks, including robust covariance estimation, robust regression, and more generally robust stochastic optimization.

# #1122
Popular decision tree algorithms are provably noise tolerant

Guy Blanc · Jane Lange · Ali Malik · Li-Yang Tan

Using the framework of boosting, we prove that all impurity-based decision tree learning algorithms, including the classic ID3, C4.5, and CART, are highly noise tolerant. Our guarantees hold under the strongest noise model of nasty noise, and we provide near-matching upper and lower bounds on the allowable noise rate. We further show that these algorithms, which are simple and have long been central to everyday machine learning, enjoy provable guarantees in the noisy setting that are unmatched by existing algorithms in the theoretical literature on decision tree learning. Taken together, our results add to an ongoing line of research that seeks to place the empirical success of these practical decision tree algorithms on firm theoretical footing.

# #1124
Understanding and Improving Knowledge Graph Embedding for Entity Alignment

Lingbing Guo · Qiang Zhang · Zequn Sun · Mingyang Chen · Wei Hu · Huajun Chen

Embedding-based entity alignment (EEA) has recently received great attention. Despite significant performance improvement, few efforts have been paid to facilitate understanding of EEA methods. Most existing studies rest on the assumption that a small number of pre-aligned entities can serve as anchors connecting the embedding spaces of two KGs. Nevertheless, no one has investigated the rationality of such an assumption. To fill the research gap, we define a typical paradigm abstracted from existing EEA methods and analyze how the embedding discrepancy between two potentially aligned entities is implicitly bounded by a predefined margin in the score function. Further, we find that such a bound cannot guarantee to be tight enough for alignment learning. We mitigate this problem by proposing a new approach, named NeoEA, to explicitly learn KG-invariant and principled entity embeddings. In this sense, an EEA model not only pursues the closeness of aligned entities based on geometric distance, but also aligns the neural ontologies of two KGs by eliminating the discrepancy in embedding distribution and underlying ontology knowledge. Our experiments demonstrate consistent and significant performance improvement against the best-performing EEA methods.

# #1126
Perfectly Balanced: Improving Transfer and Robustness of Supervised Contrastive Learning

Mayee Chen · Daniel Y Fu · Avanika Narayan · Michael Zhang · Zhao Song · Kayvon Fatahalian · Christopher Re

An ideal learned representation should display transferability and robustness. Supervised contrastive learning (SupCon) is a promising method for training accurate models, but produces representations that do not capture these properties due to class collapse---when all points in a class map to the same representation. Recent work suggests that "spreading out" these representations improves them, but the precise mechanism is poorly understood. We argue that creating spread alone is insufficient for better representations, since spread is invariant to permutations within classes. Instead, both the correct degree of spread and a mechanism for breaking this invariance are necessary. We first prove that adding a weighted class-conditional InfoNCE loss to SupCon controls the degree of spread. Next, we study three mechanisms to break permutation invariance: using a constrained encoder, adding a class-conditional autoencoder, and using data augmentation. We show that the latter two encourage clustering of latent subclasses under more realistic conditions than the former. Using these insights, we show that adding a properly-weighted class-conditional InfoNCE loss and a class-conditional autoencoder to SupCon achieves 11.1 points of lift on coarse-to-fine transfer across 5 standard datasets and 4.7 points on worst-group robustness on 3 datasets, setting state-of-the-art on CelebA by 11.5 points.

# #1125
Robust Fine-Tuning of Deep Neural Networks with Hessian-based Generalization Guarantees

Haotian Ju · Dongyue Li · Hongyang Zhang

We consider transfer learning approaches that fine-tune a pretrained deep neural network on a target task. We investigate generalization properties of fine-tuning to understand the problem of overfitting, which often happens in practice. Previous works have shown that constraining the distance from the initialization of fine-tuning improves generalization. Using a PAC-Bayesian analysis, we observe that besides distance from initialization, Hessians affect generalization through the noise stability of deep neural networks against noise injections. Motivated by the observation, we develop Hessian distance-based generalization bounds for a wide range of fine-tuning methods. Next, we investigate the robustness of fine-tuning with noisy labels. We design an algorithm that incorporates consistent losses and distance-based regularization for fine-tuning. Additionally, we prove a generalization error bound of our algorithm under class conditional independent noise in the training dataset labels. We perform a detailed empirical study of our algorithm on various noisy environments and architectures. For example, on six image classification tasks whose training labels are generated with programmatic labeling, we show a 3.26% accuracy improvement over prior methods. Meanwhile, the Hessian distance measure of the fine-tuned network using our algorithm decreases by six times more than existing approaches.

# #1123
Understanding Gradual Domain Adaptation: Improved Analysis, Optimal Path and Beyond

Haoxiang Wang · Bo Li · Han Zhao

The vast majority of existing algorithms for unsupervised domain adaptation (UDA) focus on adapting from a labeled source domain to an unlabeled target domain directly in a one-off way. Gradual domain adaptation (GDA), on the other hand, assumes a path of $(T-1)$ unlabeled intermediate domains bridging the source and target, and aims to provide better generalization in the target domain by leveraging the intermediate ones. Under certain assumptions, Kumar et al. (2020) proposed a simple algorithm, Gradual Self-Training, along with a generalization bound in the order of $e^{O(T)} \left(\varepsilon_0+O\left(\sqrt{log(T)/n}\right)\right)$ for the target domain error, where $\varepsilon_0$ is the source domain error and $n$ is the data size of each domain. Due to the exponential factor, this upper bound becomes vacuous when $T$ is only moderately large. In this work, we analyze gradual self-training under more general and relaxed assumptions, and prove a significantly improved generalization bound as $\widetilde{O}\left(\varepsilon_0 + T\Delta + T/\sqrt{n} + 1/\sqrt{nT}\right)$, where $\Delta$ is the average distributional distance between consecutive domains. Compared with the existing bound with an exponential dependency on $T$ as a multiplicative factor, our bound only depends on $T$ linearly and additively. Perhaps more interestingly, our result implies the existence of an optimal choice of $T$ that minimizes the generalization error, and it also naturally suggests an optimal way to construct the path of intermediate domains so as to minimize the accumulative path length $T\Delta$ between the source and target. To corroborate the implications of our theory, we examine gradual self-training on multiple semi-synthetic and real datasets, which confirms our findings. We believe our insights provide a path forward toward the design of future GDA algorithms.

# #1121
A Minimax Learning Approach to Off-Policy Evaluation in Confounded Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes

Chengchun Shi · Masatoshi Uehara · Jiawei Huang · Nan Jiang

We consider off-policy evaluation (OPE) in Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes (POMDPs), where the evaluation policy depends only on observable variables and the behavior policy depends on unobservable latent variables. Existing works either assume no unmeasured confounders, or focus on settings where both the observation and the state spaces are tabular. In this work, we first propose novel identification methods for OPE in POMDPs with latent confounders, by introducing bridge functions that link the target policy's value and the observed data distribution. We next propose minimax estimation methods for learning these bridge functions, and construct three estimators based on these estimated bridge functions, corresponding to a value function-based estimator, a marginalized importance sampling estimator, and a doubly-robust estimator. Our proposal permits general function approximation and is thus applicable to settings with continuous or large observation/state spaces. The nonasymptotic and asymptotic properties of the proposed estimators are investigated in detail. A Python implementation of our proposal is available at Confounded-POMDP-Exp.

# #1119
The Power of Exploiter: Provable Multi-Agent RL in Large State Spaces

Chi Jin · Qinghua Liu · Tiancheng Yu

Modern reinforcement learning (RL) commonly engages practical problems with large state spaces, where function approximation must be deployed to approximate either the value function or the policy. While recent progresses in RL theory address a rich set of RL problems with general function approximation, such successes are mostly restricted to the single-agent setting. It remains elusive how to extend these results to multi-agent RL, especially in the face of new game-theoretical challenges. This paper considers two-player zero-sum Markov Games (MGs). We propose a new algorithm that can provably find the Nash equilibrium policy using a polynomial number of samples, for any MG with low \emph{multi-agent Bellman-Eluder dimension}---a new complexity measure adapted from its single-agent version (Jin et al., 2021). A key component of our new algorithm is the exploiter, which facilitates the learning of the main player by deliberately exploiting her weakness. Our theoretical framework is generic, which applies to a wide range of models including but not limited to tabular MGs, MGs with linear or kernel function approximation, and MGs with rich observations.

# #1117
Extracting Latent State Representations with Linear Dynamics from Rich Observations

Abraham Frandsen · Rong Ge · Holden Lee

Recently, many reinforcement learning techniques have been shown to have provable guarantees in the simple case of linear dynamics, especially in problems like linear quadratic regulators. However, in practice many tasks require learning a policy from rich, high-dimensional features such as images, which are unlikely to be linear. We consider a setting where there is a hidden linear subspace of the high-dimensional feature space in which the dynamics are linear. We design natural objectives based on forward and inverse dynamics models. We prove that these objectives can be efficiently optimized and their local optimizers extract the hidden linear subspace. We empirically verify our theoretical results with synthetic data and explore the effectiveness of our approach (generalized to nonlinear settings) in simple control tasks with rich observations.

# #1115
For Learning in Symmetric Teams, Local Optima are Global Nash Equilibria

Scott Emmons · Caspar Oesterheld · Andrew Critch · Vincent Conitzer · Stuart Russell

Although it has been known since the 1970s that a \textit{globally} optimal strategy profile in a common-payoff game is a Nash equilibrium, global optimality is a strict requirement that limits the result's applicability. In this work, we show that any \textit{locally} optimal symmetric strategy profile is also a (global) Nash equilibrium. Furthermore, we show that this result is robust to perturbations to the common payoff and to the local optimum. Applied to machine learning, our result provides a global guarantee for any gradient method that finds a local optimum in symmetric strategy space. While this result indicates stability to \textit{unilateral} deviation, we nevertheless identify broad classes of games where mixed local optima are unstable under \textit{joint}, asymmetric deviations. We analyze the prevalence of instability by running learning algorithms in a suite of symmetric games, and we conclude by discussing the applicability of our results to multi-agent RL, cooperative inverse RL, and decentralized POMDPs.

# #1113
Consensus Multiplicative Weights Update: Learning to Learn using Projector-based Game Signatures

Nelson Vadori · Rahul Savani · Thomas Spooner · Sumitra Ganesh

Cheung and Piliouras (2020) recently showed that two variants of the Multiplicative Weights Update method - OMWU and MWU - display opposite convergence properties depending on whether the game is zero-sum or cooperative. Inspired by this work and the recent literature on learning to optimize for single functions, we introduce a new framework for learning last-iterate convergence to Nash Equilibria in games, where the update rule's coefficients (learning rates) along a trajectory are learnt by a reinforcement learning policy that is conditioned on the nature of the game: \textit{the game signature}. We construct the latter using a new decomposition of two-player games into eight components corresponding to commutative projection operators, generalizing and unifying recent game concepts studied in the literature. We compare the performance of various update rules when their coefficients are learnt, and show that the RL policy is able to exploit the game signature across a wide range of game types. In doing so, we introduce CMWU, a new algorithm that extends consensus optimization to the constrained case, has local convergence guarantees for zero-sum bimatrix games, and show that it enjoys competitive performance on both zero-sum games with constant coefficients and across a spectrum of games when its coefficients are learnt.

# #1111
Learning Markov Games with Adversarial Opponents: Efficient Algorithms and Fundamental Limits

Qinghua Liu · Yuanhao Wang · Chi Jin

An ideal strategy in zero-sum games should not only grant the player an average reward no less than the value of Nash equilibrium, but also exploit the (adaptive) opponents when they are suboptimal. While most existing works in Markov games focus exclusively on the former objective, it remains open whether we can achieve both objectives simultaneously. To address this problem, this work studies no-regret learning in Markov games with adversarial opponents when competing against the best fixed policy in hindsight. Along this direction, we present a new complete set of positive and negative results: When the policies of the opponents are revealed at the end of each episode, we propose new efficient algorithms achieving $\sqrt{K}$ regret bounds when either (1) the baseline policy class is small or (2) the opponent’s policy class is small. This is complemented with an exponential lower bound when neither conditions are true. When the policies of the opponents are not revealed, we prove a statistical hardness result even in the most favorable scenario when both above conditions are true. Our hardness result is much stronger than the existing hardness results which either only involve computational hardness, or require further restrictions on the algorithms.

# #1109
Strategic Instrumental Variable Regression: Recovering Causal Relationships From Strategic Responses

Keegan Harris · Dung Ngo · Logan Stapleton · Hoda Heidari · Steven Wu

In settings where Machine Learning (ML) algorithms automate or inform consequential decisions about people, individual decision subjects are often incentivized to strategically modify their observable attributes to receive more favorable predictions. As a result, the distribution the assessment rule is trained on may differ from the one it operates on in deployment. While such distribution shifts, in general, can hinder accurate predictions, our work identifies a unique opportunity associated with shifts due to strategic responses: We show that we can use strategic responses effectively to recover causal relationships between the observable features and outcomes we wish to predict, even under the presence of unobserved confounding variables. Specifically, our work establishes a novel connection between strategic responses to ML models and instrumental variable (IV) regression by observing that the sequence of deployed models can be viewed as an instrument that affects agents’ observable features but does not directly influence their outcomes. We show that our causal recovery method can be utilized to improve decision-making across several important criteria: individual fairness, agent outcomes, and predictive risk. In particular, we show that if decision subjects differ in their ability to modify non-causal attributes, any decision rule deviating from the causal coefficients can lead to (potentially unbounded) individual-level unfairness..

# #1107
Learning to Infer Structures of Network Games

Emanuele Rossi · Federico Monti · Yan Leng · Michael Bronstein · Xiaowen Dong

Strategic interactions between a group of individuals or organisations can be modelled as games played on networks, where a player's payoff depends not only on their actions but also on those of their neighbours. Inferring the network structure from observed game outcomes (equilibrium actions) is an important problem with numerous potential applications in economics and social sciences. Existing methods mostly require the knowledge of the utility function associated with the game, which is often unrealistic to obtain in real-world scenarios. We adopt a transformer-like architecture which correctly accounts for the symmetries of the problem and learns a mapping from the equilibrium actions to the network structure of the game without explicit knowledge of the utility function. We test our method on three different types of network games using both synthetic and real-world data, and demonstrate its effectiveness in network structure inference and superior performance over existing methods.

# #1101
Nearly Minimax Optimal Reinforcement Learning with Linear Function Approximation

Pihe Hu · Yu Chen · Longbo Huang

We study reinforcement learning with linear function approximation where the transition probability and reward functions are linear with respect to a feature mapping $\boldsymbol{\phi}(s,a)$. Specifically, we consider the episodic inhomogeneous linear Markov Decision Process (MDP), and propose a novel computation-efficient algorithm, LSVI-UCB$^+$, which achieves an $\widetilde{O}(Hd\sqrt{T})$ regret bound where $H$ is the episode length, $d$ is the feature dimension, and $T$ is the number of steps. LSVI-UCB$^+$ builds on weighted ridge regression and upper confidence value iteration with a Bernstein-type exploration bonus. Our statistical results are obtained with novel analytical tools, including a new Bernstein self-normalized bound with conservatism on elliptical potentials, and refined analysis of the correction term. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first minimax optimal algorithm for linear MDPs up to logarithmic factors, which closes the $\sqrt{Hd}$ gap between the best known upper bound of $\widetilde{O}(\sqrt{H^3d^3T})$ in \cite{jin2020provably} and lower bound of $\Omega(Hd\sqrt{T})$ for linear MDPs.

# #1103
Near-Optimal Learning of Extensive-Form Games with Imperfect Information

Yu Bai · Chi Jin · Song Mei · Tiancheng Yu

This paper resolves the open question of designing near-optimal algorithms for learning imperfect-information extensive-form games from bandit feedback. We present the first line of algorithms that require only $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}((XA+YB)/\varepsilon^2)$ episodes of play to find an $\varepsilon$-approximate Nash equilibrium in two-player zero-sum games, where $X,Y$ are the number of information sets and $A,B$ are the number of actions for the two players. This improves upon the best known sample complexity of $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}((X^2A+Y^2B)/\varepsilon^2)$ by a factor of $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(\max\{X, Y\})$, and matches the information-theoretic lower bound up to logarithmic factors. We achieve this sample complexity by two new algorithms: Balanced Online Mirror Descent, and Balanced Counterfactual Regret Minimization. Both algorithms rely on novel approaches of integrating \emph{balanced exploration policies} into their classical counterparts. We also extend our results to learning Coarse Correlated Equilibria in multi-player general-sum games.

# #1206
Guarantees for Epsilon-Greedy Reinforcement Learning with Function Approximation

Chris Dann · Yishay Mansour · Mehryar Mohri · Ayush Sekhari · Karthik Sridharan

Myopic exploration policies such as epsilon-greedy, softmax, or Gaussian noise fail to explore efficiently in some reinforcement learning tasks and yet, they perform well in many others. In fact, in practice, they are often selected as the top choices, due to their simplicity. But, for what tasks do such policies succeed? Can we give theoretical guarantees for their favorable performance? These crucial questions have been scarcely investigated, despite the prominent practical importance of these policies. This paper presents a theoretical analysis of such policies and provides the first regret and sample-complexity bounds for reinforcement learning with myopic exploration. Our results apply to value-function-based algorithms in episodic MDPs with bounded Bellman Eluder dimension. We propose a new complexity measure called myopic exploration gap, denoted by alpha, that captures a structural property of the MDP, the exploration policy and the given value function class. We show that the sample-complexity of myopic exploration scales quadratically with the inverse of this quantity, 1 / alpha^2. We further demonstrate through concrete examples that myopic exploration gap is indeed favorable in several tasks where myopic exploration succeeds, due to the corresponding dynamics and reward structure.

# #1208
Choosing Answers in Epsilon-Best-Answer Identification for Linear Bandits

Marc Jourdan · Rémy Degenne

In pure-exploration problems, information is gathered sequentially to answer a question on the stochastic environment.While best-arm identification for linear bandits has been extensively studied in recent years, few works have been dedicated to identifying one arm that is $\varepsilon$-close to the best one (and not exactly the best one).In this problem with several correct answers, an identification algorithm should focus on one candidate among those answers and verify that it is correct.We demonstrate that picking the answer with highest mean does not allow an algorithm to reach asymptotic optimality in terms of expected sample complexity.Instead, a \textit{furthest answer} should be identified.Using that insight to choose the candidate answer carefully, we develop a simple procedure to adapt best-arm identification algorithms to tackle $\varepsilon$-best-answer identification in transductive linear stochastic bandits. Finally, we propose an asymptotically optimal algorithm for this setting, which is shown to achieve competitive empirical performance against existing modified best-arm identification algorithms.

# #1210
On the Finite-Time Performance of the Knowledge Gradient Algorithm

Yanwen Li · Siyang Gao

The knowledge gradient (KG) algorithm is a popular and effective algorithm for the best arm identification (BAI) problem. Due to the complex calculation of KG, theoretical analysis of this algorithm is difficult, and existing results are mostly about the asymptotic performance of it, e.g., consistency, asymptotic sample allocation, etc. In this research, we present new theoretical results about the finite-time performance of the KG algorithm. Under independent and normally distributed rewards, we derive lower bounds and upper bounds for the probability of error and simple regret of the algorithm. With these bounds, existing asymptotic results become simple corollaries. We also show the performance of the algorithm for the multi-armed bandit (MAB) problem. These developments not only extend the existing analysis of the KG algorithm, but can also be used to analyze other improvement-based algorithms. Last, we use numerical experiments to further demonstrate the finite-time behavior of the KG algorithm.

# #1212
Expression might be enough: representing pressure and demand for reinforcement learning based traffic signal control

Liang Zhang · Qiang Wu · Jun Shen · Linyuan Lü · Bo Du · Jianqing Wu

Many studies confirmed that a proper traffic state representation is more important than complex algorithms for the classical traffic signal control (TSC) problem. In this paper, we (1) present a novel, flexible and efficient method, namely advanced max pressure (Advanced-MP), taking both running and queuing vehicles into consideration to decide whether to change current signal phase; (2) inventively design the traffic movement representation with the efficient pressure and effective running vehicles from Advanced-MP, namely advanced traffic state (ATS); and (3) develop a reinforcement learning (RL) based algorithm template, called Advanced-XLight, by combining ATS with the latest RL approaches, and generate two RL algorithms, namely "Advanced-MPLight" and "Advanced-CoLight" from Advanced-XLight. Comprehensive experiments on multiple real-world datasets show that: (1) the Advanced-MP outperforms baseline methods, and it is also efficient and reliable for deployment; and (2) Advanced-MPLight and Advanced-CoLight can achieve the state-of-the-art.

# #1214
Generalization Bounds using Lower Tail Exponents in Stochastic Optimizers

Liam Hodgkinson · Umut Simsekli · Rajiv Khanna · Michael Mahoney

Despite the ubiquitous use of stochastic optimization algorithms in machine learning, the precise impact of these algorithms and their dynamics on generalization performance in realistic non-convex settings is still poorly understood. While recent work has revealed connections between generalization and heavy-tailed behavior in stochastic optimization, they mainly relied on continuous-time approximations; and a rigorous treatment for the original discrete-time iterations is yet to be performed. To bridge this gap, we present novel bounds linking generalization to the lower tail exponent of the transition kernel associated with the optimizer around a local minimum, in both discrete- and continuous-time settings. To achieve this, we first prove a data- and algorithm-dependent generalization bound in terms of the celebrated Fernique-Talagrand functional applied to the trajectory of the optimizer. Then, we specialize this result by exploiting the Markovian structure of stochastic optimizers, and derive bounds in terms of their (data-dependent) transition kernels. We support our theory with empirical results from a variety of neural networks, showing correlations between generalization error and lower tail exponents.

# #1216
No-Regret Learning in Time-Varying Zero-Sum Games

Mengxiao Zhang · Peng Zhao · Haipeng Luo · Zhi-Hua Zhou

Learning from repeated play in a fixed two-player zero-sum game is a classic problem in game theory and online learning. We consider a variant of this problem where the game payoff matrix changes over time, possibly in an adversarial manner. We first present three performance measures to guide the algorithmic design for this problem: 1) the well-studied \emph{individual regret}, 2) an extension of \emph{duality gap}, and 3) a new measure called \emph{dynamic Nash Equilibrium regret}, which quantifies the cumulative difference between the player's payoff and the minimax game value. Next, we develop a single parameter-free algorithm that \emph{simultaneously} enjoys favorable guarantees under all these three performance measures. These guarantees are adaptive to different non-stationarity measures of the payoff matrices and, importantly, recover the best known results when the payoff matrix is fixed. Our algorithm is based on a two-layer structure with a meta-algorithm learning over a group of black-box base-learners satisfying a certain property, along with several novel ingredients specifically designed for the time-varying game setting. Empirical results further validate the effectiveness of our algorithm.

# #1218
Achieving Minimax Rates in Pool-Based Batch Active Learning

Claudio Gentile · Zhilei Wang · Tong Zhang

We consider a batch active learning scenario where the learner adaptively issues batches of points to a labeling oracle. Sampling labels in batches is highly desirable in practice due to the smaller number of interactive rounds with the labeling oracle (often human beings). However, batch active learning typically pays the price of a reduced adaptivity, leading to suboptimal results. In this paper we propose a solution which requires a careful trade off between the informativeness of the queried points and their diversity. We theoretically investigate batch active learning in the practically relevant scenario where the unlabeled pool of data is available beforehand ({\em pool-based} active learning). We analyze a novel stage-wise greedy algorithm and show that, as a function of the label complexity, the excess risk of this algorithm%operating in the realizable setting for which we prove matches the known minimax rates in standard statistical learning settings. Our results also exhibit a mild dependence on the batch size. These are the first theoretical results that employ careful trade offs between informativeness and diversity to rigorously quantify the statistical performance of batch active learning in the pool-based scenario.

# #1220
Active Multi-Task Representation Learning

Yifang Chen · Kevin Jamieson · Simon Du

To leverage the power of big data from source domains and overcome the scarcity of target domain samples, representation learning based on multi-task pretraining has become a standard approach in many applications. However, large-scale pretraining is often computationally expensive and not affordable for small organizations. When there is only one target task, most source tasks can be irrelevant, and we can actively sample a subset of source data from the most To leverage the power of big data from source tasks and overcome the scarcity of the target task samples, representation learning based on multi-task pretraining has become a standard approach in many applications. However, up until now, choosing which source tasks to include in the multi-task learning has been more art than science. In this paper, we give the first formal study on resource task sampling by leveraging the techniques from active learning. We propose an algorithm that iteratively estimates the relevance of each source task to the target task and samples from each source task based on the estimated relevance. Theoretically, we show that for the linear representation class, to achieve the same error rate, our algorithm can save up to a textit{number of source tasks} factor in the source task sample complexity, compared with the naive uniform sampling from all source tasks. We also provide experiments on real-world computer vision datasets to illustrate the effectiveness of our proposed method on both linear and convolutional neural network representation classes. We believe our paper serves as an important initial step to bring techniques from active learning to representation learning.

# #1222
Outstanding Paper Runner Up
Active fairness auditing

Tom Yan · Chicheng Zhang

The fast spreading adoption of machine learning (ML) by companies across industries poses significant regulatory challenges. One such challenge is scalability: how can regulatory bodies efficiently \emph{audit} these ML models, ensuring that they are fair? In this paper, we initiate the study of query-based auditing algorithms that can estimate the demographic parity of ML models in a query-efficient manner. We propose an optimal deterministic algorithm, as well as a practical randomized, oracle-efficient algorithm with comparable guarantees. Furthermore, we make inroads into understanding the optimal query complexity of randomized active fairness estimation algorithms. Our first exploration of active fairness estimation aims to put AI governance on firmer theoretical foundations.

# #1224
Metric-Fair Active Learning

Jie Shen · Nan Cui · Jing Wang

Active learning has become a prevalent technique for designing label-efficient algorithms, where the central principle is to only query and fit ``informative'' labeled instances. It is, however, known that an active learning algorithm may incur unfairness due to such instance selection procedure. In this paper, we henceforth study metric-fair active learning of homogeneous halfspaces, and show that under the distribution-dependent PAC learning model, fairness and label efficiency can be achieved simultaneously. We further propose two extensions of our main results: 1) we show that it is possible to make the algorithm robust to the adversarial noise~--~one of the most challenging noise models in learning theory; and 2) it is possible to significantly improve the label complexity when the underlying halfspace is sparse.

# #1221
Metric-Fair Classifier Derandomization

Jimmy Wu · Yatong Chen · Yang Liu

We study the problem of \emph{classifier derandomization} in machine learning: given a stochastic binary classifier $f: X \to [0,1]$, sample a deterministic classifier $\hat{f}: X \to \{0,1\}$ that approximates the output of $f$ in aggregate over any data distribution. Recent work revealed how to efficiently derandomize a stochastic classifier with strong output approximation guarantees, but at the cost of individual fairness --- that is, if $f$ treated similar inputs similarly, $\hat{f}$ did not. In this paper, we initiate a systematic study of classifier derandomization with metric fairness guarantees. We show that the prior derandomization approach is almost maximally metric-unfair, and that a simple ``random threshold'' derandomization achieves optimal fairness preservation but with weaker output approximation. We then devise a derandomization procedure that provides an appealing tradeoff between these two: if $f$ is $\alpha$-metric fair according to a metric $d$ with a locality-sensitive hash (LSH) family, then our derandomized $\hat{f}$ is, with high probability, $O(\alpha)$-metric fair and a close approximation of $f$. We also prove generic results applicable to all (fair and unfair) classifier derandomization procedures, including a bias-variance decomposition and reductions between various notions of metric fairness.

# #1219
Interactively Learning Preference Constraints in Linear Bandits

David Lindner · Sebastian Tschiatschek · Katja Hofmann · Andreas Krause

We study sequential decision-making with known rewards and unknown constraints, motivated by situations where the constraints represent expensive-to-evaluate human preferences, such as safe and comfortable driving behavior. We formalize the challenge of interactively learning about these constraints as a novel linear bandit problem which we call constrained linear best-arm identification. To solve this problem, we propose the Adaptive Constraint Learning (ACOL) algorithm. We provide an instance-dependent lower bound for constrained linear best-arm identification and show that ACOL's sample complexity matches the lower bound in the worst-case. In the average case, ACOL's sample complexity bound is still significantly tighter than bounds of simpler approaches. In synthetic experiments, ACOL performs on par with an oracle solution and outperforms a range of baselines. As an application, we consider learning constraints to represent human preferences in a driving simulation. ACOL is significantly more sample efficient than alternatives for this application. Further, we find that learning preferences as constraints is more robust to changes in the driving scenario than encoding the preferences directly in the reward function.

# #1217
Convergence of Uncertainty Sampling for Active Learning

Anant Raj · Francis Bach

Uncertainty sampling in active learning is heavily used in practice to reduce the annotation cost. However, there has been no wide consensus on the function to be used for uncertainty estimation in binary classification tasks and convergence guarantees of the corresponding active learning algorithms are not well understood. The situation is even more challenging for multi-category classification. In this work, we propose an efficient uncertainty estimator for binary classification which we also extend to multiple classes, and provide a non-asymptotic rate of convergence for our uncertainty sampling based active learning algorithm in both cases under no-noise conditions (i.e., linearly separable data). We also extend our analysis to the noisy case and provide theoretical guarantees for our algorithm under the influence of noise in the task of binary and multi-class classification.

# #1215
Thompson Sampling for Robust Transfer in Multi-Task Bandits

Zhi Wang · Chicheng Zhang · Kamalika Chaudhuri

We study the problem of online multi-task learning where the tasks are performed within similar but not necessarily identical multi-armed bandit environments. In particular, we study how a learner can improve its overall performance across multiple related tasks through robust transfer of knowledge. While an upper confidence bound (UCB)-based algorithm has recently been shown to achieve nearly-optimal performance guarantees in a setting where all tasks are solved concurrently, it remains unclear whether Thompson sampling (TS) algorithms, which have superior empirical performance in general, share similar theoretical properties. In this work, we present a TS-type algorithm for a more general online multi-task learning protocol, which extends the concurrent setting. We provide its frequentist analysis and prove that it is also nearly-optimal using a novel concentration inequality for multi-task data aggregation at random stopping times. Finally, we evaluate the algorithm on synthetic data and show that the TS-type algorithm enjoys superior empirical performance in comparison with the UCB-based algorithm and a baseline algorithm that performs TS for each individual task without transfer.

# #1213
Constants Matter: The Performance Gains of Active Learning

Stephen Mussmann · Sanjoy Dasgupta

Within machine learning, active learning studies the gains in performance made possible by adaptively selecting data points to label. In this work, we show through upper and lower bounds, that for a simple benign setting of well-specified logistic regression on a uniform distribution over a sphere, the expected excess error of both active learning and random sampling have the same inverse proportional dependence on the number of samples. Importantly, due to the nature of lower bounds, any more general setting does not allow a better dependence on the number of samples. Additionally, we show a variant of uncertainty sampling can achieve a faster rate of convergence than random sampling by a factor of the Bayes error, a recent empirical observation made by other work. Qualitatively, this work is pessimistic with respect to the asymptotic dependence on the number of samples, but optimistic with respect to finding performance gains in the constants.

# #1211
Cross-Space Active Learning on Graph Convolutional Networks

Yufei Tao · Hao WU · Shiyuan Deng

This paper formalizes {\em cross-space} active learning on a graph convolutional network (GCN). The objective is to attain the most accurate hypothesis available in any of the instance spaces generated by the GCN. Subject to the objective, the challenge is to minimize the {\em label cost}, measured in the number of vertices whose labels are requested. Our study covers both {\em budget algorithms} which terminate after a designated number of label requests, and {\em verifiable algorithms} which terminate only after having found an accurate hypothesis. A new separation in label complexity between the two algorithm types is established. The separation is unique to GCNs.

# #1207
Generative Trees: Adversarial and Copycat

Richard Nock · Mathieu Guillame-Bert

While Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) achieve spectacular results on unstructured data like images, there is still a gap on \textit{tabular data}, data for which state of the art \textit{supervised learning} still favours decision tree (DT)-based models. This paper proposes a new path forward for the generation of tabular data, exploiting decades-old understanding of the supervised task's best components for DT induction, from losses (properness), models (tree-based) to algorithms (boosting). The \textit{properness} condition on the supervised loss -- which postulates the optimality of Bayes rule -- leads us to a variational GAN-style loss formulation which is \textit{tight} when discriminators meet a calibration property trivially satisfied by DTs, and, under common assumptions about the supervised loss, yields "one loss to train against them all" for the generator: the $\chi^2$. We then introduce tree-based generative models, \textit{generative trees} (GTs), meant to mirror on the generative side the good properties of DTs for classifying tabular data, with a boosting-compliant \textit{adversarial} training algorithm for GTs. We also introduce \textit{copycat training}, in which the generator copies at run time the underlying tree (graph) of the discriminator DT and completes it for the hardest discriminative task, with boosting compliant convergence. We test our algorithms on tasks including fake/real distinction and missing data imputation.

# #1209
A Resilient Distributed Boosting Algorithm

Yuval filmus · Idan Mehalel · Shay Moran

Given a learning task where the data is distributed among several parties, communication is one of the fundamental resources which the parties would like to minimize.We present a distributed boosting algorithm which is resilient to a limited amount of noise. Our algorithm is similar to classical boosting algorithms, although it is equipped with a new component, inspired by Impagliazzo's hard-core lemma (Impagliazzo, 1995), adding a robustness quality to the algorithm. We also complement this result by showing that resilience to any asymptotically larger noise is not achievable by a communication-efficient algorithm.

# #1310
Online Learning and Pricing with Reusable Resources: Linear Bandits with Sub-Exponential Rewards

Huiwen Jia · Cong Shi · Siqian Shen

We consider a price-based revenue management problem with reusable resources over a finite time horizon $T$. The problem finds important applications in car/bicycle rental, ridesharing, cloud computing, and hospitality management. Customers arrive following a price-dependent Poisson process and each customer requests one unit of $c$ homogeneous reusable resources. If there is an available unit, the customer gets served within a price-dependent exponentially distributed service time; otherwise, she waits in a queue until the next available unit. The decision maker assumes that the inter-arrival and service intervals have an unknown linear dependence on a $d_f$-dimensional feature vector associated with the posted price. We propose a rate-optimal online learning and pricing algorithm, termed Batch Linear Confidence Bound (BLinUCB), and prove that the cumulative regret is $\tilde{O}( d_f \sqrt{T } )$. In establishing the regret, we bound the transient system performance upon price changes via a coupling argument, and also generalize linear bandits to accommodate sub-exponential rewards.

# #1312
On Well-posedness and Minimax Optimal Rates of Nonparametric Q-function Estimation in Off-policy Evaluation

Xiaohong Chen · Zhengling Qi

We study the off-policy evaluation (OPE) problem in an infinite-horizon Markov decision process with continuous states and actions. We recast the $Q$-function estimation into a special form of the nonparametric instrumental variables (NPIV) estimation problem. We first show that under one mild condition the NPIV formulation of $Q$-function estimation is well-posed in the sense of $L^2$-measure of ill-posedness with respect to the data generating distribution, bypassing a strong assumption on the discount factor $\gamma$ imposed in the recent literature for obtaining the $L^2$ convergence rates of various $Q$-function estimators. Thanks to this new well-posed property, we derive the first minimax lower bounds for the convergence rates of nonparametric estimation of $Q$-function and its derivatives in both sup-norm and $L^2$-norm, which are shown to be the same as those for the classical nonparametric regression (Stone, 1982). We then propose a sieve two-stage least squares estimator and establish its rate-optimality in both norms under some mild conditions. Our general results on the well-posedness and the minimax lower bounds are of independent interest to study not only other nonparametric estimators for $Q$-function but also efficient estimation on the value of any target policy in off-policy settings.

# #1314
Congested Bandits: Optimal Routing via Short-term Resets

Pranjal Awasthi · Kush Bhatia · Sreenivas Gollapudi · Kostas Kollias

For traffic routing platforms, the choice of which route to recommend to a user depends on the congestion on these routes -- indeed, an individual's utility depends on the number of people using the recommended route at that instance. Motivated by this, we introduce the problem of Congested Bandits where each arm's reward is allowed to depend on the number of times it was played in the past $\Delta$ timesteps. This dependence on past history of actions leads to a dynamical system where an algorithm's present choices also affect its future pay-offs, and requires an algorithm to plan for this. We study the congestion aware formulation in the multi-armed bandit (MAB) setup and in the contextual bandit setup with linear rewards. For the multi-armed setup, we propose a UCB style algorithm and show that its policy regret scales as $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{K \Delta T})$. For the linear contextual bandit setup, our algorithm, based on an iterative least squares planner, achieves policy regret $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{dT} + \Delta)$. From an experimental standpoint, we corroborate the no-regret properties of our algorithms via a simulation study.

# #1316
Stochastic Rising Bandits

Alberto Maria Metelli · Francesco Trovò · Matteo Pirola · Marcello Restelli

This paper is in the field of stochastic Multi-Armed Bandits (MABs), i.e., those sequential selection techniques able to learn online using only the feedback given by the chosen option (a.k.a. arm). We study a particular case of the rested and restless bandits in which the arms' expected payoff is monotonically non-decreasing. This characteristic allows designing specifically crafted algorithms that exploit the regularity of the payoffs to provide tight regret bounds. We design an algorithm for the rested case (R-ed-UCB) and one for the restless case (R-less-UCB), providing a regret bound depending on the properties of the instance and, under certain circumstances, of $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(T^{\frac{2}{3}})$. We empirically compare our algorithms with state-of-the-art methods for non-stationary MABs over several synthetically generated tasks and an online model selection problem for a real-world dataset. Finally, using synthetic and real-world data, we illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed approaches compared with state-of-the-art algorithms for the non-stationary bandits.

# #1318
Agnostic Learnability of Halfspaces via Logistic Loss

Ziwei Ji · Kwangjun Ahn · Pranjal Awasthi · Satyen Kale · Stefani Karp

We investigate approximation guarantees provided by logistic regression for the fundamental problem of agnostic learning of homogeneous halfspaces. Previously, for a certain broad class of “well-behaved” distributions on the examples, Diakonikolas et al. (2020) proved an tilde{Omega}(OPT) lower bound, while Frei et al. (2021) proved an tilde{O}(sqrt{OPT}) upper bound, where OPT denotes the best zero-one/misclassification risk of a homogeneous halfspace. In this paper, we close this gap by constructing a well-behaved distribution such that the global minimizer of the logistic risk over this distribution only achieves Omega(sqrt{OPT}) misclassification risk, matching the upper bound in (Frei et al., 2021). On the other hand, we also show that if we impose a radial-Lipschitzness condition in addition to well-behaved-ness on the distribution, logistic regression on a ball of bounded radius reaches tilde{O}(OPT) misclassification risk. Our techniques also show for any well-behaved distribution, regardless of radial Lipschitzness, we can overcome the Omega(sqrt{OPT}) lower bound for logistic loss simply at the cost of one additional convex optimization step involving the hinge loss and attain tilde{O}(OPT) misclassification risk. This two-step convex optimization algorithm is simpler than previous methods obtaining this guarantee, all of which require solving O(log(1/OPT)) minimization problems.

# #1320
Fluctuations, Bias, Variance & Ensemble of Learners: Exact Asymptotics for Convex Losses in High-Dimension

Bruno Loureiro · Cedric Gerbelot · Maria Refinetti · Gabriele Sicuro · FLORENT KRZAKALA

From the sampling of data to the initialisation of parameters, randomness is ubiquitous in modern Machine Learning practice. Understanding the statistical fluctuations engendered by the different sources of randomness in prediction is therefore key to understanding robust generalisation. In this manuscript we develop a quantitative and rigorous theory for the study of fluctuations in an ensemble of generalised linear models trained on different, but correlated, features in high-dimensions. In particular, we provide a complete description of the asymptotic joint distribution of the empirical risk minimiser for generic convex loss and regularisation in the high-dimensional limit. Our result encompasses a rich set of classification and regression tasks, such as the lazy regime of overparametrised neural networks, or equivalently the random features approximation of kernels. While allowing to study directly the mitigating effect of ensembling (or bagging) on the bias-variance decomposition of the test error, our analysis also helps disentangle the contribution of statistical fluctuations, and the singular role played by the interpolation threshold that are at the roots of the ``double-descent'' phenomenon.

# #1319
PDE-Based Optimal Strategy for Unconstrained Online Learning

Zhiyu Zhang · Ashok Cutkosky · Ioannis Paschalidis

Unconstrained Online Linear Optimization (OLO) is a practical problem setting to study the training of machine learning models. Existing works proposed a number of potential-based algorithms, but in general the design of these potential functions relies heavily on guessing. To streamline this workflow, we present a framework that generates new potential functions by solving a Partial Differential Equation (PDE). Specifically, when losses are 1-Lipschitz, our framework produces a novel algorithm with anytime regret bound $C\sqrt{T}+||u||\sqrt{2T}[\sqrt{\log(1+||u||/C)}+2]$, where $C$ is a user-specified constant and $u$ is any comparator unknown and unbounded a priori. Such a bound attains an optimal loss-regret trade-off without the impractical doubling trick. Moreover, a matching lower bound shows that the leading order term, including the constant multiplier $\sqrt{2}$, is tight. To our knowledge, the proposed algorithm is the first to achieve such optimalities.

# #1317
Provable Acceleration of Heavy Ball beyond Quadratics for a Class of Polyak-Lojasiewicz Functions when the Non-Convexity is Averaged-Out

Jun-Kun Wang · Chi-Heng Lin · Andre Wibisono · Bin Hu

Heavy Ball (HB) nowadays is one of the most popular momentum methods in non-convex optimization. It has been widely observed that incorporating the Heavy Ball dynamic in gradient-based methods accelerates the training process of modern machine learning models. However, the progress on establishing its theoretical foundation of acceleration is apparently far behind its empirical success. Existing provable acceleration results are of the quadratic or close-to-quadratic functions, as the current techniques of showing HB's acceleration are limited to the case when the Hessian is fixed. In this work, we develop some new techniques that help show acceleration beyond quadratics, which is achieved by analyzing how the change of the Hessian at two consecutive time points affects the convergence speed. Based on our technical results, a class of Polyak-Lojasiewicz (PL) optimization problems for which provable acceleration can be achieved via HB is identified. Moreover, our analysis demonstrates a benefit of adaptively setting the momentum parameter.

# #1315
On Learning Mixture of Linear Regressions in the Non-Realizable Setting

Soumyabrata Pal · Arya Mazumdar · Rajat Sen · Avishek Ghosh

While mixture of linear regressions (MLR) is a well-studied topic, prior works usually do not analyze such models for prediction error. In fact, \emph{prediction} and \emph{loss} are not well-defined in the context of mixtures. In this paper, first we show that MLR can be used for prediction where instead of predicting a label, the model predicts a list of values (also known as \emph{list-decoding}). The list size is equal to the number of components in the mixture, and the loss function is defined to be minimum among the losses resulted by all the component models. We show that with this definition, a solution of the empirical risk minimization (ERM) achieves small probability of prediction error. This begs for an algorithm to minimize the empirical risk for MLR, which is known to be computationally hard. Prior algorithmic works in MLR focus on the \emph{realizable} setting, i.e., recovery of parameters when data is probabilistically generated by a mixed linear (noisy) model. In this paper we show that a version of the popular expectation minimization (EM) algorithm finds out the best fit lines in a dataset even when a realizable model is not assumed, under some regularity conditions on the dataset and the initial points, and thereby provides a solution for the ERM. We further provide an algorithm that runs in polynomial time in the number of datapoints, and recovers a good approximation of the best fit lines. The two algorithms are experimentally compared.

# #1309
Random Forest Density Estimation

Hongwei Wen · Hanyuan Hang

We propose a density estimation algorithm called \textit{random forest density estimation} (\textit{RFDE}) based on random trees where the split of cell is along the midpoint of the randomly chosen dimension. By combining the efficient random tree density estimation (RTDE) and the ensemble procedure, RFDE can alleviate the problems of boundary discontinuity suffered by partition-based density estimations. From the theoretical perspective, we first prove the fast convergence rates of RFDE if the density function lies in the H\"{o}lder space $C^{0,\alpha}$. Moreover, if the target function resides in the subspace $C^{1,\alpha}$, which contains smoother density functions, we for the first time manage to explain the benefits of the ensemble learning in density estimation. To be specific, we show that the upper bound of the ensemble estimator RFDE turns out to be strictly smaller than the lower bound of its base estimator RTDE in terms of convergence rates. In the experiments, we verify the theoretical results and show the promising performance of RFDE on both synthetic and real world datasets. Moreover, we evaluate our RFDE through the problem of anomaly detection as a possible application.

# #1311
The dynamics of representation learning in shallow, non-linear autoencoders

Maria Refinetti · Sebastian Goldt

Autoencoders are the simplest neural network for unsupervised learning, and thus an ideal framework for studying feature learning. While a detailed understanding of the dynamics of linear autoencoders has recently been obtained, the study of non-linear autoencoders has been hindered by the technical difficulty of handling training data with non-trivial correlations – a fundamental prerequisite for feature extraction. Here, we study the dynamics of feature learning in non-linear, shallow autoencoders. We derive a set of asymptotically exact equations that describe the generalisation dynamics of autoencoders trained with stochastic gradient descent (SGD) in the limit of high-dimensional inputs. These equations reveal that autoencoders learn the leading principal components of their inputs sequentially. An analysis of the long-time dynamics explains the failure of sigmoidal autoencoders to learn with tied weights, and highlights the importance of training the bias in ReLU autoencoders. Building on previous results for linear networks, we analyse a modification of the vanilla SGD algorithm which allows learning of the exact principal components. Finally, we show that our equations accurately describe the generalisation dynamics of non-linear autoencoders on realistic datasets such as CIFAR10.

# #1409
Implicit Regularization in Hierarchical Tensor Factorization and Deep Convolutional Neural Networks

Noam Razin · Asaf Maman · Nadav Cohen

In the pursuit of explaining implicit regularization in deep learning, prominent focus was given to matrix and tensor factorizations, which correspond to simplified neural networks. It was shown that these models exhibit an implicit tendency towards low matrix and tensor ranks, respectively. Drawing closer to practical deep learning, the current paper theoretically analyzes the implicit regularization in hierarchical tensor factorization, a model equivalent to certain deep convolutional neural networks. Through a dynamical systems lens, we overcome challenges associated with hierarchy, and establish implicit regularization towards low hierarchical tensor rank. This translates to an implicit regularization towards locality for the associated convolutional networks. Inspired by our theory, we design explicit regularization discouraging locality, and demonstrate its ability to improve the performance of modern convolutional networks on non-local tasks, in defiance of conventional wisdom by which architectural changes are needed. Our work highlights the potential of enhancing neural networks via theoretical analysis of their implicit regularization.

# #1414
Estimation in Rotationally Invariant Generalized Linear Models via Approximate Message Passing

Ramji Venkataramanan · Kevin Kögler · Marco Mondelli

We consider the problem of signal estimation in generalized linear models defined via rotationally invariant design matrices. Since these matrices can have an arbitrary spectral distribution, this model is well suited for capturing complex correlation structures which often arise in applications. We propose a novel family of approximate message passing (AMP) algorithms for signal estimation, and rigorously characterize their performance in the high-dimensional limit via a state evolution recursion. Our rotationally invariant AMP has complexity of the same order as the existing AMP derived under the restrictive assumption of a Gaussian design; our algorithm also recovers this existing AMP as a special case. Numerical results showcase a performance close to Vector AMP (which is conjectured to be Bayes-optimal in some settings), but obtained with a much lower complexity, as the proposed algorithm does not require a computationally expensive singular value decomposition.

# #1416
Failure and success of the spectral bias prediction for Laplace Kernel Ridge Regression: the case of low-dimensional data

Umberto M. Tomasini · Antonio Sclocchi · Matthieu Wyart

Recently, several theories including the replica method made predictions for the generalization error of Kernel Ridge Regression. In some regimes, they predict that the method has a `spectral bias': decomposing the true function $f^*$ on the eigenbasis of the kernel, it fits well the coefficients associated with the O(P) largest eigenvalues, where $P$ is the size of the training set. This prediction works very well on benchmark data sets such as images, yet the assumptions these approaches make on the data are never satisfied in practice. To clarify when the spectral bias prediction holds, we first focus on a one-dimensional model where rigorous results are obtained and then use scaling arguments to generalize and test our findings in higher dimensions. Our predictions include the classification case $f(x)=$sign$(x_1)$ with a data distribution that vanishes at the decision boundary $p(x)\sim x_1^{\chi}$. For $\chi>0$ and a Laplace kernel, we find that (i) there exists a cross-over ridge $\lambda^*_{d,\chi}(P)\sim P^{-\frac{1}{d+\chi}}$ such that for $\lambda\gg \lambda^*_{d,\chi}(P)$, the replica method applies, but not for $\lambda\ll\lambda^*_{d,\chi}(P)$, (ii) in the ridge-less case, spectral bias predicts the correct training curve exponent only in the limit $d\rightarrow\infty$.

# #1418
Regret Bounds for Stochastic Shortest Path Problems with Linear Function Approximation

Daniel Vial · Advait Parulekar · Sanjay Shakkottai · R Srikant

We propose an algorithm that uses linear function approximation (LFA) for stochastic shortest path (SSP). Under minimal assumptions, it obtains sublinear regret, is computationally efficient, and uses stationary policies. To our knowledge, this is the first such algorithm in the LFA literature (for SSP or other formulations). Our algorithm is a special case of a more general one, which achieves regret square root in the number of episodes given access to a computation oracle.

# #1411
Universal Joint Approximation of Manifolds and Densities by Simple Injective Flows

Michael Puthawala · Matti Lassas · Ivan Dokmanic · Maarten de Hoop

We study approximation of probability measures supported on n-dimensional manifolds embedded in R^m by injective flows---neural networks composed of invertible flows and injective layers. We show that in general, injective flows between R^n and R^m universally approximate measures supported on images of extendable embeddings, which are a subset of standard embeddings: when the embedding dimension m is small, topological obstructions may preclude certain manifolds as admissible targets. When the embedding dimension is sufficiently large, m >= 3n+1, we use an argument from algebraic topology known as the clean trick to prove that the topological obstructions vanish and injective flows universally approximate any differentiable embedding. Along the way we show that the studied injective flows admit efficient projections on the range, and that their optimality can be established "in reverse," resolving a conjecture made in Brehmer & Cranmer 2020.

# #1413
Bounding the Width of Neural Networks via Coupled Initialization - A Worst Case Analysis

Alexander Munteanu · Simon Omlor · Zhao Song · David Woodruff

A common method in training neural networks is to initialize all the weights to be independent Gaussian vectors. We observe that by instead initializing the weights into independent pairs, where each pair consists of two identical Gaussian vectors, we can significantly improve the convergence analysis. While a similar technique has been studied for random inputs [Daniely, NeurIPS 2020], it has not been analyzed with arbitrary inputs. Using this technique, we show how to significantly reduce the number of neurons required for two-layer ReLU networks, both in the under-parameterized setting with logistic loss, from roughly $\gamma^{-8}$ [Ji and Telgarsky, ICLR 2020] to $\gamma^{-2}$, where $\gamma$ denotes the separation margin with a Neural Tangent Kernel, as well as in the over-parameterized setting with squared loss, from roughly $n^4$ [Song and Yang, 2019] to $n^2$, implicitly also improving the recent running time bound of [Brand, Peng, Song and Weinstein, ITCS 2021]. For the under-parameterized setting we also prove new lower bounds that improve upon prior work, and that under certain assumptions, are best possible.

# #1420
Last Iterate Risk Bounds of SGD with Decaying Stepsize for Overparameterized Linear Regression

Jingfeng Wu · Difan Zou · Vladimir Braverman · Quanquan Gu · Sham Kakade

Stochastic gradient descent (SGD) has been shown to generalize well in many deep learning applications. In practice, one often runs SGD with a geometrically decaying stepsize, i.e., a constant initial stepsize followed by multiple geometric stepsize decay, and uses the last iterate as the output. This kind of SGD is known to be nearly minimax optimal for classical finite-dimensional linear regression problems (Ge et al., 2019). However, a sharp analysis for the last iterate of SGD in the overparameterized setting is still open. In this paper, we provide a problem-dependent analysis on the last iterate risk bounds of SGD with decaying stepsize, for (overparameterized) linear regression problems. In particular, for last iterate SGD with (tail) geometrically decaying stepsize, we prove nearly matching upper and lower bounds on the excess risk. Moreover, we provide an excess risk lower bound for last iterate SGD with polynomially decaying stepsize and demonstrate the advantage of geometrically decaying stepsize in an instance-wise manner, which complements the minimax rate comparison made in prior work.

# #1422
The Neural Race Reduction: Dynamics of Abstraction in Gated Networks

Andrew Saxe · Shagun Sodhani · Sam Lewallen

Our theoretical understanding of deep learning has not kept pace with its empirical success. While network architecture is known to be critical, we do not yet understand its effect on learned representations and network behavior, or how this architecture should reflect task structure.In this work, we begin to address this gap by introducing the Gated Deep Linear Network framework that schematizes how pathways of information flow impact learning dynamics within an architecture. Crucially, because of the gating, these networks can compute nonlinear functions of their input. We derive an exact reduction and, for certain cases, exact solutions to the dynamics of learning. Our analysis demonstrates that the learning dynamics in structured networks can be conceptualized as a neural race with an implicit bias towards shared representations, which then govern the model's ability to systematically generalize, multi-task, and transfer. We validate our key insights on naturalistic datasets and with relaxed assumptions. Taken together, our work gives rise to general hypotheses relating neural architecture to learning and provides a mathematical approach towards understanding the design of more complex architectures and the role of modularity and compositionality in solving real-world problems. The code and results are available at

# #1424
Efficient Learning of CNNs using Patch Based Features

Alon Brutzkus · Amir Globerson · Eran Malach · Alon Regev Netser · Shai Shalev-Shwartz

Recent work has demonstrated the effectiveness of using patch based representations when learning from image data. Here we provide theoretical support for this observation, by showing that a simple semi-supervised algorithm that uses patch statistics can efficiently learn labels produced by a one-hidden-layer Convolutional Neural Network (CNN). Since CNNs are known to be computationally hard to learn in the worst case, our analysis holds under some distributional assumptions. We show that these assumptions are necessary and sufficient for our results to hold. We verify that the distributional assumptions hold on real-world data by experimenting on the CIFAR-10 dataset, and find that the analyzed algorithm outperforms a vanilla one-hidden-layer CNN. Finally, we demonstrate that by running the algorithm in a layer-by-layer fashion we can build a deep model which gives further improvements, hinting that this method provides insights about the behavior of deep CNNs.

# #1426
Neural Tangent Kernel Analysis of Deep Narrow Neural Networks

Jongmin Lee · Joo Young Choi · Ernest Ryu · Albert No

The tremendous recent progress in analyzing the training dynamics of overparameterized neural networks has primarily focused on wide networks and therefore does not sufficiently address the role of depth in deep learning. In this work, we present the first trainability guarantee of infinitely deep but narrow neural networks. We study the infinite-depth limit of a multilayer perceptron (MLP) with a specific initialization and establish a trainability guarantee using the NTK theory. We then extend the analysis to an infinitely deep convolutional neural network (CNN) and perform brief experiments.

# #1428
Modality Competition: What Makes Joint Training of Multi-modal Network Fail in Deep Learning? (Provably)

Yu Huang · Junyang Lin · Chang Zhou · Hongxia Yang · Longbo Huang

Despite the remarkable success of deep multi-modal learning in practice, it has not been well-explained in theory. Recently, it has been observed that the best uni-modal network outperforms the jointly trained multi-modal network across different combinations of modalities on various tasks, which is counter-intuitive since multiple signals would bring more information (Wang et al., 2020). This work provides a theoretical explanation for the emergence of such performance gap in neural networks for the prevalent joint training framework. Based on a simplified data distribution that captures the realistic property of multi-modal data, we prove that for multi-modal late-fusion network with (smoothed) ReLU activation trained jointly by gradient descent, different modalities will compete with each other and only a subset of modalities will be learned by its corresponding encoder networks. We refer to this phenomenon as modality competition, and the losing modalities, which fail to be discovered, are the origins where the sub-optimality of joint training comes from. In contrast, for uni-modal networks with similar learning settings, we provably show that the networks will focus on learning modality-associated features. Experimentally, we illustrate that modality competition matches the intrinsic behavior of late-fusion joint training to supplement our theoretical results. To the best of our knowledge, our work is the first theoretical treatment towards the degenerating aspect of multi-modal learning in neural networks.

# #1430
Fully-Connected Network on Noncompact Symmetric Space and Ridgelet Transform based on Helgason-Fourier Analysis

Sho Sonoda · Isao Ishikawa · Masahiro Ikeda

Neural network on Riemannian symmetric space such as hyperbolic space and the manifold of symmetric positive definite (SPD) matrices is an emerging subject of research in geometric deep learning. Based on the well-established framework of the Helgason-Fourier transform on the noncompact symmetric space, we present a fully-connected network and its associated ridgelet transform on the noncompact symmetric space, covering the hyperbolic neural network (HNN) and the SPDNet as special cases. The ridgelet transform is an analysis operator of a depth-2 continuous network spanned by neurons, namely, it maps an arbitrary given function to the weights of a network. Thanks to the coordinate-free reformulation, the role of nonlinear activation functions is revealed to be a wavelet function. Moreover, the reconstruction formula is applied to present a constructive proof of the universality of finite networks on symmetric spaces.

# #1432
Non-Vacuous Generalisation Bounds for Shallow Neural Networks

Feix Biggs · Benjamin Guedj

We focus on a specific class of shallow neural networks with a single hidden layer, namely those with $L_2$-normalised data and either a sigmoid-shaped Gaussian error function (``erf'') activation or a Gaussian Error Linear Unit (GELU) activation. For these networks, we derive new generalisation bounds through the PAC-Bayesian theory; unlike most existing such bounds they apply to neural networks with deterministic rather than randomised parameters. Our bounds are empirically non-vacuous when the network is trained with vanilla stochastic gradient descent on MNIST and Fashion-MNIST.

# #1434
Maslow's Hammer in Catastrophic Forgetting: Node Re-Use vs. Node Activation

Sebastian Lee · Stefano Sarao Mannelli · Claudia Clopath · Sebastian Goldt · Andrew Saxe

Continual learning---learning new tasks in sequence while maintaining performance on old tasks---remains particularly challenging for artificial neural networks. Surprisingly, the amount of forgetting does not increase with the dissimilarity between the learned tasks, but appears to be worst in an intermediate similarity regime.In this paper we theoretically analyse both a synthetic teacher-student framework and a real data setup to provide an explanation of this phenomenon that we name Maslow's Hammer hypothesis. Our analysis reveals the presence of a trade-off between node activation and node re-use that results in worst forgetting in the intermediate regime. Using this understanding we reinterpret popular algorithmic interventions for catastrophic interference in terms of this trade-off, and identify the regimes in which they are most effective.